All in all, I would have to say this is an amazing photograph. It shows Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 22 on June 30, 1943, in the middle of World War II, and just two years before streetcars were abandoned in this coastal town (Wildwood) in New Jersey. From what I have read, the war and the resulting nightly blackouts negatively affected tourism and contributed to the demise of the streetcars here. With such an early abandonment, color photos of this operation are very rare, indeed, and the colors on this Red Border Kodachrome have held up quite well. A sign on the car advertises Marty Bohn and His Floor Show at the “Nut Club.” The blackouts were not without reason, as German submarines were just offshore, and sometimes crew members would sneak ashore.
I am both humbled and grateful beyond measure that my late friend Jeffrey Wien made me the beneficiary of his extensive photographic collection (except for his motion picture films, which he donated to the Chicago Film Archives).
Naturally, I would rather that he still be around to enjoy his collection, comment on my posts, and point out where I got something wrong, or help identify some locations. But unfortunately, we don’t get to choose in these matters.
I think the best way I can honor his memory is to keep up the work of historic preservation and education that meant so much to him.
While this post may not have an overall theme, it is full of legends and legacies. It is thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of many people, Jeff included, that anything at all has been saved from the electric railways of the past. Some of the photos here were taken after the North Shore Line quit, and show various railcars sitting around, waiting to be saved or scrapped. There are also pictures of the fledgling and somewhat ramshackle early days of the Illinois Electric Railway Museum, at its original and temporary home in North Chicago.
You if had told one of the founders of what is now IRM back then all the progress that has been made since at Union, they hardly could have believed it possible. Institutions like IRM are saving this history and preserving it for future generations, while also making it possible to have some of the same experiences riding the equipment in the collection, that people enjoyed in the past.
If we can maintain the same spirit, all this important history will be our legacy to those who come after us. I am intent on doing my part.
PS- We thank Jack Bejna, Andre Kristopans, William Shapotkin, and Colin Wisner for contributing to this post.
We also have a Facebook auxiliary for The Trolley Dodger where you can participate further. It is a private group, so unfortunately you won’t be able to see the content unless you join. It is free. As of this writing, we have 183 members.
From Jeff Wien’s Collection
The North Shore Line ticket cabinet from the Dempster Street station in Skokie. It still has the tickets in it.
I will have to straighten this out, as the tickets were jostled when the cabinet was moved. The balls were apparently placed behind the tickets.
This metal route sign hung on the side of a wooden Metropolitan “L” car, and was of a type in use for a half-century prior to the opening of the Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway in 1951. Remarkably, it has survived for 70 years since it last could have been used in service. The sign was reversible, and the other side says Humboldt Park.
A fare counter from a Chicago streetcar. There was a Chicago streetcar 3351, a Peter Witt that was scrapped around 1952, but I am not certain that these didn’t have their own numbers.
This metal sign appears to show the original version of the CTA’s “Metropolitan Transit” logo, first introduced in 1958. By then, the agency wanted the public to know that it served more than just Chicago.
The North Shore Line eventually joined the Insull Empire that, by the mid-1920s, included all three major Chicago interurbans and the “L”. So it should not be too much of a surprise that the North Shore had its own rider publication for a few years, with leaflet holders presumably made by the same firm as the “L”s. The North Shore Line version is said to be rare, as many were melted down for scrap during WWII.
Leaflet holders from 4000-series “L” cars. The Elevated News was published by the Chicago Elevated Railways Collateral Trust, formed in 1913 as a voluntary association by the four independent (or at least they started that way) “L” firms. The 4000-series, which eventually ran to 455 cars, was the first designed for use on all the various “L” lines. The title of their rider publication was changed to Rapid Transit News in 1924, coincident with the formation of the Chicago Rapid Transit Company. The Chicago Transit Authority had its own publication, the Rider’s Reader, for a few years starting in 1948.
This leaflet holder is marked as having come from CTA PCC 7213, the last Chicago streetcar that ran on June 21, 1958.
Although Chicago had a total of 600 postwar PCC streetcars, this was too much for a single manufacturer to produce in the immediate postwar era, so the order was divided between Pullman (310) and St. Louis Car Company (290). The “Read As You Ride” leaflet holder at left came from a St. Louis PCC (7213), while the one at right may have come from a Pullman. Their interiors were painted different colors.
Jeff’s collection included a leaflet holder from another city. Several cities had “Public Service” in their streetcar operator’s names, so offhand, I am not sure which city this came from. (Frank J. Flörianz Jr. says it is from New Jersey.)
I found this clipping that Jeff cut out of the Chicago Tribune in 1978 inside the “Read As You Ride” leaflet holder from PCC 7213, the last Chicago streetcar.
There were a few cities besides New York, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia to have some sort of elevated electric railways, and Kansas City was among them. Here, Kansas City Public Service car 785 is descending from the 8th Street “L” at Baltimore Avenue on September 3, 1952. I was fortunate to win this original Red Border Kodachrome slide, because I had lost an auction for it once before when someone sold it. Kansas City abandoned streetcars in 1957, but has since reopened a modern streetcar line. (Edward S. Miller Photo)
A single CRT wooden “L” car is at the Dempster Street terminal in Skokie, probably in the 1940s. This “L” branch was replaced by buses in 1948, but returned in 1964 in the form of the Skokie Swift (today’s Yellow Line), a year after the North Shore Line (who owned these tracks) ended all service.
This is one of the experimental “Bluebird” articulated compartment car trains (probably the prototype) being tested on the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit system circa 1939. BMT ordered 50 of these units from the Clark Equipment Company, intended to be “fast locals” to mix with slower express trains on El lines. But when the City of New York purchased BMT in 1940, they cancelled the order, except for five units that had already been built. They lived out the rest of their days as oddball equipment before being scrapped in 1956. But the Bluebirds were the first rapid transit cars to use PCC technology, and were a major influence on the four articulated 5000s that CRT ordered at the end of World War II.
The former Chicago Aurora & Elgin station in Villa Park still exists and is a local landmark. But here we see it under construction in 1929. The Ovaltine plant at left has since been converted to residential.
I spent some time cleaning up this image, which was part of a stereo pair meant to be viewed in 3-D using a handheld device called a “stereopticon.” It shows Chicago’s Loop “L” circa 1905, and this is the original left-hand running, bi-directional configuration, before it was changed in 1913. So the train at right is moving towards us, while the train at left is moving away from us. The view looks west along Van Buren Street, and that is the old Tower 12 at left. A Metropolitan “L” train is on the inner Loop, while a Lake Street train trails a Northwestern “L” train on the outer Loop. At this stage, only the Lake trains would have needed trolley poles. The station at Van Buren and State is visible in the distance.
A Stereopticon viewer.
Chicago Surface Lines car 2802 is on a charter trip on June 12, 1940. This was apparently a fan favorite, as we have previously published a photo of the same car on a 1941 fantrip.
North Shore Line car 709 at the Branford Trolley Museum in Connecticut in October 30, 1966, just three and a half years after the interurban quit. The location given is Farm River Road. Don’s Rail Photos: “709 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1924, #2725. It was sold to Branford Trolley Museum in 1963.”
This is another remarkable photograph, showing Monongahela West Penn car 320 at night in June 1946. Such night shots were very difficult to achieve back then, due to the slow film speed of the time (this is Kodachrome 10, as in ASA/ISO 10). About the only way to take such a picture would have been with a very long exposure, with the camera resting on a tripod. (Dr. H. Blackbunn Photo)
South Shore Line cars 105 and 1 in April 1963.
Another great night shot, this time it’s Illinois Terminal 473 on the line that ran from St. Louis to Granite City in the 1950s. This was IT’s final passenger line and was abandoned in June 1958, on the same weekend that the last Chicago streetcar ran.
CTA PCC 4406, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, at Clark and Archer in April 1954. (William Shapotkin Collection)
This is DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park, the end of the CTA Congress rapid transit line. The license plates would indicate a date of 1961, perhaps in the Fall since that is a 1962 Chevy in the parking lot. The various signs on the Leyden Motor Coach bus might confuse you, but on the side, it is marked “OSA” meaning this is a fantrip. (William Shapotkin Collection) Bill Shapotkin writes: “Unable to read the bus number, bus OSA operated trips on 06/17/61 (trip #2) using Leyden bus #95 and on 03/18/62 (trip #10) using Leyden buses #90, 157 and 164. If you can identify the fleet number, that would cement down the details.” This is bus #90, so that makes the date March 18, 1962.
CTA 6053 is at the rear of a northbound Ravenswood All-Stop train approaching Armitage in August 1986. The two center tracks lead down to the State Street Subway. (William Shapotkin Collection)
A southbound CTA Englewood train (lead car: 2033) has met a northbound Howard train at Armitage station in April 1985, and is descending into the State Street Subway. (William Shapotkin Collection)
North Shore Line former merchandise dispatch car 215 at the Harrison Shops in Milwaukee on July 7, 1953. Don’s Rail Photos: “215 was built by Cincinnati Car in October 1922, #2605. The loading doors (were moved) from the ends to the center. It was demotorized and used as a tool car.”
On May 22, 1944, Illinois Governor Dwight H. Green (1897-1958) poses with officials from the Illinois State Militia, next to a 1700-series Chicago Surface Lines car promoting that branch of the military during World War II. Green served two terms as governor from 1941-49 before his defeat by Democrat Adlai Stevenson.
While I don’t have the negative that goes with this Chicago Sun photo file slip, it does at least identify some of the notables in the negative I do have. The Chicago Sun was a morning newspaper, started in 1941 by the Field family. It bought the Chicago Times in 1948 and the paper has been the Chicago Sun-Times ever since (although no longer owned by Field Enterprises).
North Shore Line cars 192 and 187 at Highwood in September 1963, looking much worse the wear, nine months after abandonment. But in actuality, these cars had been retired some years earlier. Don’s Rail Photos: “187 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1920, (order) #2450. It was retired on December 31, 1955. It was scrapped at Rondout on January 29, 1964. 192 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1920, #2450. It was retired on December 31, 1955. It was scrapped at Rondout on January 29, 1964.” Apparently these cars were considered surplus after the abandonment of the Shore Line Route in 1955.
This photo is a bit of a mystery. It is dated September 1963, which means these are probably North Shore Line cars in dead storage at Highwood, awaiting disposition. However, that doesn’t explain the Shore Line Route sign, as that portion of the Interurban had been abandoned in 1955. And after the 1963 abandonment, a lot of these signs were scarfed up by fans and were missing from the trains that were scrapped. Don’s Rail Photos: “(Combine) 256 was built by Jewett in 1917. It seems to be the only one which retained its original configuration.” It did not survive. The fate of the Silverliner at right is not known.
On June 16, 1962, the late Maury Klebolt talks to the North Shore Line train crew during a fantrip at Harrison Street in Milwaukee. This must have been an Illini Railroad Club excursion. There were many such trips during the last year of the interurban’s existence. (Richard H. Young Photo)
A close-up of Maury Klebolt (1930-1988). Not sure who is at left.
CTA Pullman PCC 4077 heads southbound at 2600 N. Clark Street in the early 1950s. It may be running on either Route 22 or 36. The Pullmans had almost entirely disappeared from service by the end of 1954, for the so-called “PCC Conversion Program.”
The same location today.
The Illinois Electric Railway Museum in North Chicago in September 1963, shortly before the collection was moved to its permanent location in Union. From left to right, we see Milwaukee streetcar 966, a Milwaukee Electric interurban car (either 1129 or 1135), and Indiana Railroad car 65.
This September 1963 (or at least, that’s when the film was processed) view of the Illinois Electric Railway Museum is not the sharpest, but it does show, from left to right, CTA snow sweeper E223, Illinois Terminal 101, one of the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurbans, and a Milwaukee Electric car.
North Shore Line Silverliner 409 at Roosevelt Road on august 4, 1956. Don’s Rail Photos: “409 was built by Cincinnati Car in May 1923, #2465, as a dining car motor. In 1942 it was rebuilt as a coach and rebuilt as a Silverliner on March 30, 1955. Since it had no bulkhead between smoking and non-smoking sections, it was our favorite car to be used for meetings of the Milwaukee Division of the Electric Railroaders Association in Milwaukee. The North Shore was very cooperative in making sure that the car was in the location shown on meeting nights.” The 409 is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (C. G. Parsons Photo)
This amazing real photo postcard sold on eBay for $77.89. I unfortunately was not aware of the auction. It shows the Ridgeland “L” station on South Boulevard in Oak Park. The postcard was mailed in 1909 and hence can’t be any later than that. Work is already underway to elevate the Chicago & North Western tracks at left. The Lake Street “L” itself would join it on the embankment in 1962.
NYCTA Brooklyn PCC 1049 is running on the 72 Smith Line to the Brooklyn Bridge in this undated photo, taken between 1946 and 1956. According to the information on the half frame slide mount, this is on 10th Avenue at 17th Street, at the 9th Avenue Depot. Half frame had a brief vogue in the early 1950s, as a way to double the number of pictures on a 35mm roll, while still maintaining some level of quality. But most photographers back then didn’t need twice as many pictures on a roll. In the long run, it Kodak downsized their film over time, from sizes 126 to 110 and Disc, in order to make bigger profits. But sharpness was reduced in turn, and full-frame 25mm is still with us today. These 1950s Brooklyn PCCs appear to have had about as many dents as their Chicago cousins. (R. Fillman Photo)
The Magic of Clark Frazier
Clark Frazier is an excellent photographer who has been active since around 1956. Among the first 35mm slides that I took home from Jeff’s collection were over 100 that he had purchased from Mr. Frazier over the last few years. Even better, Mr. Frazier did a lot of traveling, so his work covers many different cities. In his retired years, Jeff loved purchasing excellent slides that not only reflected his own type of shooting, but filled in gaps in his collection– views that he was unable to capture himself, or places he couldn’t get to before something ceased operating. For example, in this representative sampling, I am not certain that Jeff was able to visit Washington D.C. prior to the abandonment of streetcars there in 1962, and I don’t think he could get to San Francisco in time to ride the “Iron Monsters” before they were all taken out of service around 1957. So here they are.
DC Transit 1572 on Route 70 at Georgia and Alaska on February 7, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1566 inbound on Route 82 at Riverdale on September 1, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 77 turn back meets 130 on Geary Boulevard in 1956. Hope that dog made it across the street safely. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1322 at the Department of the Interior on Route 82, on September 2, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1567 on Route 82 on Rhode Island Avenue, September 1, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3311 and 3305 are stuck in the snow at Riverside after a “Noreaster” on March 4, 1960. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 139 turns left from Geary onto 33rd Avenue in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
St. Louis Public Service PCC 1628 arrives at South Broadway carhouse on August 23, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1555 from Cabin John in Brookmont on June 7, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 195 on the C Line at Geary and Van Ness in January 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 205 and 1014 at the end of the N Line in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 176 outbound on the N Line to the beach in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1469 is on Rhode Island Avenue (Route 82) in Maryland, August 11, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 199 at 46th and Vicente on the L line on September 9, 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
El Paso 1500 backs up at the Cotton Street Carbarn on June 12, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1321 at the Soldier’s Home end of Route 74 on February 7, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 156 is an inbound J Line car at Market and Duboce in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 178 is heading to the beach on Carl Street (N Line) in 1957. Don’s Rail Photos: “178, K Type, was built by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Co in 1923.” From wrm.org: “The Bay Area Electric Railway Association purchased the 178 from the Muni in February of 1959, and moved it to Marysville, California, for storage on a Sacramento Northern spur for occasional operation on the electrified trackage in the Marysville-Yuba City area. It was moved to Rio Vista Junction in August, 1964 to join the rest of the BAERA collection. 178 returned to San Francisco in 1982 to be part of the Trolley Festival on Market Street while the City rebuilt it’s cable cars lines. In 1983 the 178 returned to the Western Railway Museum and still operates today.” (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 105 on the B (Geary) Line at Leavenworth Street in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit (ex-Capital Traction) 303 at the Mt. Rainier Loop on September 1, 1958. Don’s Rail Photos: “303 was built by American Car Co in 1898 as Capital Traction Co 303. It is now at the Smithsonian (National Museum of American History).” The 303 was retired from regular service in 1913 but was kept for charter use until the end of DC streetcar service in 1962. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 206 is on the C Line at 2nd Avenue and Cornwall in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 188 is running on the K Line on Market Street between 5th and 6th in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1399 on Route 90, at Pennsylvania Avenue SE, on June 7, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1288 at Friendship Heights, running on Route 30, on June 7, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Chicago Rapid Transit Route Descriptions
“L” operations were rather complex prior to the October 1, 1947 takeover by the Chicago Transit Authority, so much so that Chicago Rapid Transit Company maps typically made no attempt to explain them. There were pocket guides published over the years by third parties that included explanations, but often these were considerably out of date by the time of publication.
Here, courtesy of Andre Kristopans, are the various CRT route descriptions that describe the service in place at the time when CTA assumed control. The dates vary from 1940 to 1946 because service hadn’t been altered on those lines by October 1, 1947.
“L” service “grew like Topsy” in the early years, as the saying goes, reflecting its origins as four separate companies, operating independently. There were expresses and locals, and by 1913, some trains through-routed from the north and south sides, some trains ending or originating at the four downtown stub-end terminals, and the several branch lines. Trains were split at some locations, with one part going one way, the other part a different way.
Powering the Metropolitan West Side Elevated
We recently acquired the August, 1895 edition of Power magazine, which featured a three-page article describing the then-new Metropolitan West Side Elevated‘s Loomis Street power plant. The Met was the first of Chicago’s four “L”s to operate exclusively with electricity. The South Side and Lake Street “L”s began life with steam locomotives. The Met was greatly influenced by the success of the experimental Columbian Intramural Railway at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.
In 1895, there was no such thing as commercially available electricity on this kind of scale. You had to make your own.
I spent the morning talking to a friend over zoom and doodling this, Indiana Railroad Car 65. I showed the drawing to him and he was kind of impressed.
Thanks! In case you don’t know him, Colin is a very talented young man who enjoys searching the former Chicago, Aurora & Elgin right-of-way in search of artifacts that have until now been overlooked. He has found, among many other things, a small section of third rail.
Jack Bejna writes:
I enjoyed the latest post as I always do. I really like the shot of the Highwood Shops and since I have some time this morning I decided to help out the image by getting rid of the bad portion. Hope you like it!
ps: I never took the time to get over to the shops and get some pictures, so I rely on you for keeping the memories of the North Shore alive! Thanks for your great work.
Thanks! Our regular readers are probably familiar with Jack’s great work, which has graced these pages many times in the past, and will hopefully do so in the future.
From our resident South Side expert M.E.:
First, Happy New Year, a bit late because your last few postings were so heavily weighted toward the north side, I had nothing to comment on. But I have a few things today.
This is the schedule sheet for south side service. At the bottom of the page is “Stock Yard Services”. Notice the heading “Jackson Pk.” and its associated train times. According to the route description, two morning trains ran from Jackson Park to Indiana Av., then onto the Stock Yards tracks. And two evening trains ran from the Stock Yards to Indiana Ave., then to Jackson Park. This is the first time I have heard of any trains doing that.
I had always thought the switches west of Indiana made it difficult to get between the main line and the Stock Yards line. But this schedule sheet piqued my curiosity, so I dug out my CERA Bulletin 115, which has great trackage maps toward the back. Plate 8, Detail 15, page 235, illustrating the trackage at Indiana Ave. in 1914, shows there were usable switches between the Stock Yards and main lines. Those switches could have still existed in April 1946 — the date of this schedule — because Plate 8 also shows the switch arrangement starting in 1949 (the one I remember), which would not have worked well to switch between the two lines.
The date April 1946 is after World War II, so even if this route was put in place during the war, it continued after the war. Interesting.
This sheet verifies that Englewood trains ran to Ravenswood. That is the route I first rode on the Rapid Transit Lines.
For Further Reading
Several issues of The Elevated News and Rapid Transit News from the 1920s can be read here via Google Books. You can even download the entire book.
These publications include important historical information that might not be available otherwise. To cite a couple of examples, here are excerpts from the May 1, 1926 issue of Rapid Transit News.
First, we had a recent discussion here (see Our Sixth Anniversary, January 21, 2021) that mentioned an underground passageway that connected Union Station to the Canal Street “L” station on the Met main line. Well, this is not only mentioned in Rapid Transit News, but there is both a map and a photo. We also learn that it was used by 8,000 people per day.
Second, there is a progress report on the new “L” service to Bellwood and Westchester, then set to open, including a picture of the tower that controlled movements on this branch off the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin main line.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
PS- We have added the two nocturnal shots to our previous post Night Beat (June 21, 2016). If you like this style of photography, you might want to check it out.
New Steam Audio CD:
FYI, we have digitally remastered another classic steam railroad audio LP to Compact Disc. Many additional titles, including the complete output of the Railroad Record Club, in our Online Store.
RGTS Rio Grande to Silverton: A Sound Portrait of Mountain Railroading Price: $14.99
These are vintage 1960 narrow gauge steam train recordings, in true stereo, and originally released on LP in 1961. It is long out of print.
01. Riding The Train To Silverton
02. Photo Run At Elk Park
03. Arriving At Silverton
04. Train Time At La Jara
05. Illini Special At Cumbres Pass
06. Doubleheader Starting At Monero
07. Eastbound Freight
08. Arriving At Chama
09. Whistles At Coxo
10. Freight With Pusher At Coxo
Gone are the nostalgic sounds of steam echoes and thundering exhausts, but the memory is immortal. May they live on in the locomotive lexicon, as a monument to the era when trains were pulled by STEAM POWER.
As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.
Total time – 45:49
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway. Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago: 60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958) 75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943) 80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938) To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways. While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages Chapter Titles: 01. The River Tunnels 02. The Freight Tunnels 03. Make No Little Plans 04. The State Street Subway 05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway 06. Displaced 07. Death of an Interurban 08. The Last Street Railway 09. Subways and Superhighways 10. Subways Since 1960 Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author. The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States. For Shipping to US Addresses: For Shipping to Canada: For Shipping Elsewhere:
Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo) Help Support The Trolley Dodger
This is our 264th 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 740,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.
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A couple of CA&E woods (including 308) head east, approaching the Des Plaines Avenue terminal in April 1957, a few months before abandonment of passenger service. Another CA&E train is in the terminal, while a train of CTA 4000s, including a “baldy” with the blocked-off center door, turns around on a wooden trestle. This arrangement began when the CA&E stopped running downtown in September 1953.
April showers have given way to May flowers, and it is high time here at Trolley Dodger HQ for a little spring cleaning.
A long time ago, railfans would put together dossiers on various subjects. Our own method, we confess, is to do something similar. We collect photographs and artifacts on various subjects, and after we have collected a sufficiency, that provides enough material for a blog post.
Inevitably, however, there are some odds and ends left over. So, this weekend we have cleaned out our closets, so to speak, and have rounded up some interesting classic images that we are adding to previous posts. People do look at our older posts, and when we can improve them, we do so. After all, we want this site to be an online resource for information that people will use as much in the future as they do today.
To this, we have added some recent correspondence and even a few interesting eBay items for your enjoyment. Add a few “mystery photos” to the mix, and you’ll have a complete feast for the eyes to rival anything put on a plate by the old Holloway House cafeteria.
Help Support The Trolley Dodger
This is our 137th 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 157,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.
You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.
As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”
We thank you for your support.
The eBay Beat
This old metal sign dates to the 1940s or early 50s and was used on Douglas Park “L” trains prior to the introduction of A/B “skip stop” service, which started in December 1951. It’s remarkable that this sign, obsolete for more than 64 years, still exists. It was recently offered for sale on eBay, but the seller was asking about $500 for it and it did not sell.
You can see pictures of similar signs in use in our earlier post Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Three (March 23, 2016). In practice, a train that was not an express would simply flip the sign over and become a local, unless it was a “short turn” going to Lawndale only, to be put into storage, which involved a different sign.
The seller says:
The sign is made by the Chicago Veribrite sign company that was very well know in sign making and went out of business in 1965. Sign measures about 19.5 x 11 in size.
I found a list of sign manufacturers online that says the Veribrite Sign Company was in business from 1915 to 1965.
There were other signs used that were not metal. Some paper signs were used to identify Garfield Park trains in the 1950s, and a few of these have also survived.
The three photos below are listed for sale on eBay as being from Chicago, but this is obviously in error. Perhaps some of our keen-eyed readers can tell us where they actually do come from. If we can determine the real locations, we will contact the seller so they can update their listings accordingly. (See the Comments section for the answers.)
Englewood “L” Extension
Prior to the construction of the CTA Orange Line, which opened in 1993, the City of Chicago and CTA seemed more interested in tearing down elevated lines than in building them. However, the 1969 two-block extension of the Englewood branch of the South Side “L” (part of today’s Green Line) was an exception to this. It was even thought there might be further extensions of this branch all the way to Midway airport, but that is now served by the Orange Line. There was only a brief period of time when these construction pictures could have been taken. According to Graham Garfield’s excellent web site, the extension opened on May 6, 1969. At this time the new Ashland station, with more convenient interchange with buses, replaced the old Loomis terminal.
CTA regular service car 3167, painted green, is at Cermak and Kenton, west end of route 21. Red cars 479 and 473, at the rear, are on the famous CERA “farewell to red cars” fantrip. The date is May 16, 1954, two weeks before the end of red car service in Chicago.
LVT on the P&W
We’ve added another photo showing Lehigh Valley Transit freight operations on the Philadelphia and Western after (passenger service there was abandoned) to our post Alphabet Soup (March 15, 2016), which already had a similar picture:
LVT freight motor C-17 approaches Norristown terminal ion the Philadelphia and Western in January 1951. Although the Liberty Bell Limited cars stopped running on the P&W in 1949, freight operations continued right up to the time of the September 1951 abandonment.
More CA&E Action
The Chicago, Aurora & Elgin picture at the top of this page, plus these two others, have been added to our previous post More CA&E Jewels (February 9, 2016).
This undated 1950s photo shows a westbound Chicago, Aurora & Elgin train (cars 406 and 41x) at the Villa Park station. According to the Great Third Rail web site, “The station was rebuilt again in 1929. During this reconstruction, the eastbound platform was moved to the west side of Villa Avenue with the construction of an expansive Tudor Revival station designed by Samuel Insull’s staff architect, Arthur U. Gerber. The westbound platform remained in place and was outfitted with a flat roofed wooden passenger shelter. Villa Park was one of a few stations to survive the demise of the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin. Both it and Ardmore (the next station west) were purchased by the village of Villa Park and refurbished with an official dedication by the Villa Park Bicentennial Commission on July 5, 1976. It is now home to the Villa Park Historical Society which hosts an annual ice cream social on July 3, the anniversary of the day the CA&E ended passenger service.”
I believe this photo shows CA&E freight loco 4006 on the Mt. Carmel branch.
Here is Lackawana & Wyoming Valley 31 as it appeared on August 3, 1952. Passenger service ended on this third-rail line at the end of that year. Some have wondered if the LL rolling stock could have benefited the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, but the general consensus is these cars would have been too long to navigate the tight curves on the Loop “L”, although perhaps they could have been used west of Forest Park. As it was, there were no takers and all were scrapped. Ironically, some thought was later given by a museum of adapting a CA&E curved-side car into an ersatz Laurel Line replica, but this idea was dropped.
A northbound CNS&M Shore Line Route train, headed up by 413, at the downtown Wilmette station in June 1954. The Shore Line was abandoned not much more than one year later. We are looking to the southeast.
A current view of where the North Shore Line station in downtown Wilmette was once located. We are at the corner of Wilmette Avenue and Poplar Drive, looking to the southeast. The station was located in what is now the parking lot of a strip mall. The storefronts at rear are on Greenleaf Avenue, where the CNS&M Shore Line Route turned east for some slow street running before connecting up with the CRT/CTA at Linden Avenue.
CNS&M line car 606 on October 12, 1961. Don’s Rail Photos says, “606 was built by Cincinnati in January 1923, #2620. In 1963 it became Chicago Transit Authority S-606 and burned in 1978. The remains were sold to the Indiana Transportation Museum.” Joseph Hazinski writes, “The picture of North Shore Line car 606 is Northbound at Harrison Avenue on the mainline just before entering S. 5th Street. After adjustments are made to the overhead 606 will continue its patrol to the downtown Milwaukee terminal and lunch before returning south to Highwood.”
The North Shore Line’s Silverliners, when freshly painted and seen in bright sunlight, positively gleamed.
More South Shore Line Action
These Chicago, South Shore and South Bend interurban photos have been added to our post Tokens of Our Esteem (January 20, 2016):
CSS&SB 106 heads up a two-car train going east from the South Shore’s old South Bend terminal. This street running was eliminated in 1970 when the line was cut back to Bendix at the outskirts of town. Since then, it has been extended to the local airport.
George Foelschow: “The latest Trolley Dodger installment, which included a photo of a South Shore Line train on East LaSalle Avenue in South Bend, reminded me of a watercolor painting I acquired before moving from Chicago in 1978. The artist is David Tutwiler and the painting is dated (19)77. It depicts a similar scene. I thought you may want to share it with Trolley Dodger readers.” Thanks, George!
The same location today.
South Shore Line cars 28 and 19 at the Randolph Street station in downtown Chicago in March 1978. By then, these cars were more than 50 years old and had but a few more years to run. That’s the Prudential Building in the background. Since then, this station has been rebuilt and is now underneath Millennium Park.
On my first trip to Boston in 1967 I rode all the lines, including the Watertown trolley which briefly was designated as the A line (although I don’t recall ever seeing any photos of that designation on roll signs. I’ve read that officially, Watertown was “temporarily” bussed in 1969 due to a shortage of PCCs for the other lines. The tracks and wire were retained until about 1994 for access to Watertown Yard, where some maintenance work was done.
Recently, I found a blog post that offers perhaps the best explanation of why the Watertown trolley was replaced by buses. Starting in 1964, a choke point got added to the Watertown trackage in the form of an on ramp for the Mass Pike highway, which was one way. So, streetcars had not only to fight massive traffic congestion at this one point, but going against the regular traffic flow as well. Therefore, the MBTA decided to replace the Watertown trolley with buses (the 57) that were re-routed around this choke point.
Here are some pictures showing a 1988 fantrip on the Watertown line, which had by then not seen regular revenue service with streetcars in nearly 20 years. How I wish I was on that trip.
Three generations of Boston streetcars on a June 12, 1988 Watertown fantrip. That’s a Type 5 car (5734) behind PCC 3295, with Boeing-Vertol LRV 3404 behind it. (Clark Frazier Photo)
MBTA LRV 3404, signed as an instruction car (probably so regular passengers would not try to board it) on a June 12, 1988 fantrip on Boston’s former Watertown line. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Railroad Record Club Audition Records
Kenneth Gear writes:
Hi David. Recently there was an auction on eBay for 4 RRC LPs. Interestingly each of the album jackets have a rubber stamping on them. It reads: THIS IS AN AUDITION SET RECORD AND IS THE PROPERTY OF THE RAILROAD RECORD CLUB HAWKINS, WI 54530.
The person selling these LPs offered no explanation but I can only conclude that these records were (or were planned to be) played on the radio or sent to a railroad or audiophile magazine for review. If they were played on air, wouldn’t it be great to know where and when. Perhaps the broadcast included an interview with Mr. Steventon. Have you ever seen a review of a RRC record in any magazine or newspaper archive?
I saw that too, thanks. One possibility is that these were demonstration records to be played in booths at record stores. Or perhaps they were used to try and drum up orders from people who had no idea what a railroad record was like?
Maybe the radio station idea is best… in any event, these must have been at least at one time owned by Steventon. Perhaps one of our readers might have a better idea what such audition records were used for.
We have written about the Railroad Record Club several times before. Don’t forget that we offer more than 80% of their entire output on CDs, attractively priced and digitally remastered, in our Online Store.
Farnham Third Rail System
Charlie Vlk writes:
Does anyone know the origin/disposition of the experimental interurban car used by Farnham in his demonstration of the Farnham Third Rail System? A section of side track at Hawthorne on the CB&Q was modified with Farnham’s third rail which was an under-running system that was only energized when the car was collecting power in a segment. Variations of this system were used by the NYC and other railroads. The trial took place in 1897 and he car looks similar to, but not identical, to Suburban Railroad (West Towns) equipment but had different trucks and slightly different window spacing.
Let’s hope there is someone out there who will have an answer for you, thanks.
On May 21, 50 years to the day from the last streetcar operation in St. Louis, the Museum will present to the public a restored and operational PCC. We will be giving rides all day long. This car will be added to the other 3 cars operating at the Museum.
I regret not being able to find more information about your grandfather when I wrote my book about the accident. Obviously, you didn’t know him. But what can you tell us about him?
Jeff Wilson replied:
Like you said, I never met him. My father told me stories and I’ve seen many pictures of Mel. After Pearl Harbor Mel enlisted in the Navy and served during WWII. He died on my father’s 8th grade graduation night. My Dad had asked Mel to stay at home that evening to attend his graduation ceremony. Mel knowing he had 4 boys to support decided that he would drive that evening and earn some extra money to buy his boy’s new shoes. They never saw him alive again.
I am gratified that we are helping to make these personal connections. It is important that the personal stories behind this tragedy be told.