Reader Showcase, 9-9-2018

This photo purports to show the actual last run on Milwaukee's ill-fated Speedrail interurban on June 30, 1951. However, according to Larry Sakar, author of Speedrail: Milwaukee's Last Rapid Transit?, "The last run to Waukesha which left Milwaukee at a little after 8:00 pm and returned to Milwaukee at 10:08 pm, 2 minutes ahead of schedule, was handled by duplex 37-38. The final round trip to Hales Corners was handled by curved side car 63, not 66. 66 did run on the last day, but it was by no means the final run." Chances are this photo was at least taken on the last day. The line could not survive the repercussions of a terrible head-on collision in 1950, and Milwaukee area officials wanted to use the interurban's right-of-way, which it did not own, for a new highway. Don's Rail Photos: "66 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 203. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to Lehigh Valley Transit as 1102. In 1949 it was sold to Speedrail, but was not rehabilitated until March 1951. But it only ran for 3 months before the line was abandoned and then scrapped in 1952." (Photo by George Harris)

This photo purports to show the actual last run on Milwaukee’s ill-fated Speedrail interurban on June 30, 1951. However, according to Larry Sakar, author of Speedrail: Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?, “The last run to Waukesha which left Milwaukee at a little after 8:00 pm and returned to Milwaukee at 10:08 pm, 2 minutes ahead of schedule, was handled by duplex 37-38. The final round trip to Hales Corners was handled by curved side car 63, not 66. 66 did run on the last day, but it was by no means the final run.” Chances are this photo was at least taken on the last day. The line could not survive the repercussions of a terrible head-on collision in 1950, and Milwaukee area officials wanted to use the interurban’s right-of-way, which it did not own, for a new highway. Don’s Rail Photos: “66 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 203. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to Lehigh Valley Transit as 1102. In 1949 it was sold to Speedrail, but was not rehabilitated until March 1951. But it only ran for 3 months before the line was abandoned and then scrapped in 1952.” (Photo by George Harris)

This post features many great contributions from our readers that we hope you will enjoy. Our sincere thanks go out to Larry Sakar, Miles Beitler, Jack Bejna, Jeffrey Haertlein, Kathryn Boyer, and Mitch Markovitz.

-David Sadowski

PS- Happy 88th birthday to two of my uncles, Raymond and Robert Wakefield, fraternal twins born September 10, 1930. They are my late mother’s younger brothers.

I hope they each have a wonderful day.

According to my mother’s memoirs, they were both first day riders on the new Chicago subway, which opened on October 17, 1943, nearly 75 years ago. My new book Building Chicago’s Subways, which will be released on October 1st, tells the story of how this came to be.

Larry Sakar writes:

Hi Dave,

Recently you asked if car 66 was the used for the last run to Hales Corners and back on MRT’s (Speedrail) last day, 6-30-51. As I said, the 66 did make at least one round trip to Hales Corners that day. The first photo I am attaching shows it westbound at 85th St. The water tower in the background is at N. 84th St. The 84th St. stop on the Rapid Transit Line was adjacent to it. The tower is still there today. No trace of the station or the right of way exists. Car 66 would be adjacent to the present day Honey Creek business park which would be at right.

As I also mentioned car 63 made the last round trip to Hales Corners and back shortly before midnight. Here we see it earlier in the evening of 6-30-51. In the second photo the motorman has just called for orders at the call in booth you see at right It was adjacent to the West Jct. stop just beyond the platform on the single track .

In the last photo car 63 has turned on Hillcrest loop and is laying over before returning to Milwaukee. Note some of photographer Robert Townley’s equipment sitting on the platform. The poor motorman looks rather forlorn. As of tomorrow 7-1-51 he will be unemployed.

The Hales Corners station was located on the southeast corner of Highway 100 (S.108th St.) and W. Janesville Rd. (Hwy. 24). The northbound curb lane of Highway 100 now occupies the former r.o.w. Except for the power lines, no traces of the line can be found today. The Hales Corners loop which was located about a half mile or so southwest of the station is now the site of a Menards store. For anyone unfamiliar with Menards, it’s a home improvement chain like Home Depot.

These photos and others including the last round trip to Waukesha were taken by Robert Townley. His capture of Speedrail’s last day were somewhat of an unplanned event. Remember this was during the height of the Korean War and guys were being drafted or were enlisting. Bob had enlisted in the Navy in order to avoid being drafted into the Army. His enlistment point was somewhere south of Chicago but definitely not Great Lakes Naval Training Station. I have forgotten where he said it was located.

Anyway, Bob was in Council Bluffs, Iowa taking pictures of whatever traction system they had in that city. He happened to overhear a couple of railfans mention that the next day 6-30-51 was Speedrail’s last. He had planned to visit Milwaukee later on, but now that Speedrail was about to shut down it became a priority. The next day he boarded a bus for Peoria, Illinois where he caught the Rock Island’s Peoria Rocket for Chicago. Upon arriving in Chicago in the afternoon he made his way to the Adams & Wabash “L” station where he took the next North Shore train to Milwaukee. He arrived in the late afternoon and headed from the NSL station at 6th & Michigan to the Public Service Building. He rode the trip to Hales Corners you see photographed. I’m sure he took either a Hales Corners local or a West Jct. train and got off at 84th St. which is how he was able to capture car 66 bound for Hales Corners.

One other interesting coincidence. Bob, who is from Columbia, CA. (that’s in Gold Rush country east of Sacramento) met up with another Milwaukee traction fan/photographer – Don Ross! It was while both men were serving in Korea. Small world!

I mentioned the Hales Corners station site at Highway 100 & Janesville Rd. I took the attached photo around 1995 but it really doesn’t look much different today. You are looking north along Highway 100. The curb lane is where the TM r.o.w. would have been.

The station stood right in front of the traffic light you see center right. Janesville Rd. was only a two lane highway in the days of TM and Speedrail. Where you see the car on the right edge of the photo there was only grass. Where you see the two cars across from it was the extent of Janesville Rd. back then. None of the buildings behind those two cars were there then either. The grassy median you see dividing the north and south lanes of Highway 100 was also not there back then. The highway consisted of the lane where you see the dark colored car passing the second light pole on the left, and the lanes on the other side of that median.

Today there is no transit service to this area. At one time MCTS Rt 28-Highway 100 did go all the way to Hales Corners. Subsequent budget cuts saw it cut back to the MCTS Hales Corners Park ‘n’ Ride lot which ironically is not in Hales Corners!

For anyone confused, highway 100 goes by three different names, depending what part of it you’re traveling on. It is S. 108th St. to the point that south streets end and north streets begin. Then, it’s technically N. 108th St. It is Highway 100 from Franklin which is south of Hales Corners to Wauwatosa and Brown Deer. At that point, Highway 100 becomes an east-west and it is also known as Brown Deer Rd. On the far south side, it also turns to running east-west and it is Ryan Rd., the same Ryan Rd. crossed by the North Shore Line (but way, way east in the suburb of Oak Creek). The idea was to make it a sort of belt line highway around Milwaukee. Want more confusion? Through parts of Wauwatosa, it is also known as Lovers Lane Rd.

Larry

PS- Here are three additional pictures of the TM Watertown line abandoned r.o.w. from the point where street running in Oconomowoc ended and the p.r.o.w. heading for Watertown began. The one looking east to where eastbound trains entered the street on Oconomowoc’s west side was taken to try and match the picture of the same spot on p.261 of the TM book. I took these in the summer of 1976.

Abandoned TM r.o.w. heading toward Watertown from Oconomowoc in 1976.

Abandoned TM r.o.w. heading toward Watertown from Oconomowoc in 1976.

Abandoned TM r.o.w. heading west from end of street running in Oconomowoc in 1976.

Abandoned TM r.o.w. heading west from end of street running in Oconomowoc in 1976.

TM r.o.w. entering street on west side of Oconomoc, looking east in 1976.

TM r.o.w. entering street on west side of Oconomoc, looking east in 1976.

Miles Beitler writes:

Here are a couple of Chicago and North Western photos that I took in the late 1970s or early 1980s at the old Dee Road station in Park Ridge. The old station was torn down and moved one block west some time in the 1990s. (Editor’s note: Bill Wulfert says the new station was dedicated in 2006- see his Comment below.)

I located a few more photos but unfortunately only one has a locomotive in view. The rest only show tracks or stations. I’ll keep looking — maybe I can find more.

The two Metra photos show the Amtrak/Milwaukee District tracks approaching Union Station. The photo of the Lake Street L was taken near Lake and Des Plaines on the near west side. All of these photos were taken circa March 2001.

The shots of the downtown Des Plaines C&NW station are late 1970s (pre-Metra) and although no trains are shown, the photos show the tracks running through the station as well as two buses (one Nortran and the second RTA) across the street. Both bus operators later were merged into the PACE suburban bus system.

Jack Bejna writes:

In my continuing search for CA&E photos and information I came across this interesting item from the John Stephenson Company describing quite a ride with brand new CA&E Car 32.

Here is another batch of Michigan photos. I believe these photos were taken circa 1921 as they were in the notebooks containing DUR photographs used for an audit for an upcoming fare increase request.

These photos don’t include the location where they were taken, and again, since I’m not familiar with Michigan towns and cities, I don’t have any idea where the pictures were taken, with some exceptions. It is interesting that many non-DUR photos were in the notebooks; perhaps the photographer was a railfan!

As far as I know the DUR triple car 5000 was unique, and it was used to accommodate large numbers of Ford employees at shift change.

The Benton Harbor & St Joseph photos are not the best but I’ve included several shots taken in winter. As you can see, the BH&StJ served the Graham & Morton Steamship Lines, but the steamship business was not enough to maintain the line and it quit in the mid-thirties.

I hope that readers of your fine blog may help to identify locations of some of the photographs.

Detroit United Railway

Benton Harbor & St Joseph Railway

Jeffrey Haertlein writes:

The Wisconsin Dells MINIRAMA was an O scale layout in operation as a tourist attraction from 1960 thru 1969. It was a great train layout, one in which I marveled at for decades, even after it closed.

Long story short, after many years I was able to purchase quite a bit of it starting in 2005. It was sold to a guy in Milwaukee (130 mi.), and now a good amount of it is only 15 miles away from where it started.

I’ll attach a few pictures of the attraction. Sure wish I could find more of it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kathryn Boyer writes:

I am an art historian, and I am trying to find someone who knows enough about trains of the 1930s to help with some specific information related to the Edward Hopper painting Compartment C, Car 193, painted in 1938. (See above.)

After looking at some websites and a YouTube clip with John Smatlak, it seems as though the painting rather accurately presents many of the features of a McKeever Pullman Sleeper. The lamp in the corner does not seem to correspond to any of the images I’ve seen, but the other elements are fairly similar.

I was wondering if someone is able to pinpoint more specifically
– the train(s)/cars that this image most closely represents
– when it was first made
– how long it was out in circulation
-and what do you notice in the painting that deviates from actuality?
That is, basic information about the train/car.

But I’m also wondering if you know if there is a place to seek out information about facts such as
– how much would a ticket on this train/in this car cost (including the sleeping berth)?

Also, are you aware of any information put together or research done on the profiles of passengers of this era, for example, the number of men and women and their socio-economic status.

I appreciate any leads or directions as well as photos and documents that you can provide.

I am no expert on Pullman sleepers, but let’s hope some of our readers can help you out, thanks.

I posted this picture to Facebook, and this led to some discussion with Mitch Markovitz. He is an accomplished artist who has been researching both Edward Hopper and the Pullman Company for the last 60 years.  Here is what Mitch has to say:

As a railroad historian, and with Edward Hopper’s work having a great influence on my own i can say this. Hopper would never fly anywhere. His wife, Josephine, complained that on trips he spent much time in railroad yards painting engines. He has several great works that include Pullman equipment including “Pennsylvania Morning.” In most of his works his model was his wife. This is just your standard Pullman section sleeper of the time. Once during one of his only TV interviews he was on a Sunday morning program on Boston Public Television being interviewed by Brian O’Dougherity. Brian asked Hopper, “We noticed you came up to Boston by train today (instead of flying.) Isn’t that a bit old fashioned?” Hopper looked down for a moment, thought, and then replied, “No. It isn’t. I just didn’t feel like dying this morning.”

The art historian wants to know what the factual basis is for the painting, whether the artist made any changes… how much a train ticket would have cost, and the socio-economic status of train travelers in the 1930s.

The factual basis would be one of Hopper’s many trips by rail in a standard sleeping car. This accommodation, the section, was the least expensive one available. Used by people of middle income. This type of car would have had one or two “drawing rooms” at one end. More expensive priced accommodations for people that expected more privacy. A traveler in a section sleeper would have to use a general washroom at each end of the car for both shaving and brushing of teeth in the morning, and for the other prerequisites. Traveling salesmen used sections a lot. A traveler would pay the first class railroad fare, and then the appropriate Pullman accommodation fare in a separate ticket between the two stations. If one were to travel on a premiere train and desired a shower and the services of a barber they were available in the club car, front of the train. Please keep asking questions, I’m happy to answer.

Is this something that the average person could afford back then?

In general yes. But during the depression it would depend on the definition of “average.” In this era we saw the rise of the “All coach train.” The section sleeper was the bottom of services. If one were to travel on say the “Twentieth Century Limited,” with a premium schedule, a premium dining car, and a barber shop with a shower one would pay the rail fare, the Pullman accommodation fare, and then, on top an “extra fare,” which in today’s dollars would be an additional $100 or so. A successful artist who lived in a 4th floor walk-up apartment, and had a small cottage on Martha’s Vineyard could afford this accommodation. (Hopper was cheap by the way.)

“Pennsylvania Hotel,” 20″x30″ Pastel on sand paper, 1989. One of my works that people compare to those of Hopper.

The car depicted would be of heavyweight construction before streamliners. Into the late 1930s all private rooms began to rise in popularity aboard streamlined (modern) trains. Pictured below is a standard Pullman sleeper. There were the Pullman Manufacturing Company, who built many types of railroad cars, and “The PULLMAN Company,” who owned, operated, and maintained sleeping, parlor, lounge, and restaurant cars. Both companies were part of Pullman Inc.

Thanks… did Hopper, in this painting, change anything in the interior of the sleeping car for artistic license?

Everything seen is correct. Including the interior color. The only thing I could mention is the lamp. The shade would have had a golden yellow-orange color to it on a brass or bronze colored fixture.

From www.edwardhopper.net:

Hopper also took an interest in cars and trains. It is a pity he didn’t live long into the jet age, though we sense his shadow in many contemporary works. The artist was drawn to the introspective mood that travelling seems to put us into. He captured the atmosphere in half-empty carriages making their way across a landscape: the silence that reigns inside while the wheels beat in rhythm against the rails outside, the dreaminess fostered by the noise and the view from the windows – a dreaminess in which we seem to stand outside our normal selves and have access to thoughts and memories that may not emerge in more settled circumstances. The woman in Hopper’s Compartment C Car 1938 seems in such a frame of mind, reading her book and shifting her gaze between the carriage and the view.

Hopper’s people give the impression of being people attempting to escape something. They are involved in themselves and cannot seem to get their lives straight. They escape the society of others, and would like to escape themselves. They are not really at home anywhere, neither in a room nor outside, neither at work nor at play, neither alone nor with others. That is why they are on the move. Their home is a train station, a highway restaurant, a gas station, a hotel or motel, a train compartment, a snack bar, a theater foyer, a movie house.

They are going somewhere without being able to arrive. They have personality traits that seem mutually exclusive. They are mobile and restless, yet statically tied to some location from which they will probably never escape.

Our thanks to everyone else who contributed to this post. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski
Recent Finds

Here are a few pictures we have recently acquired.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 419 is eastbound in June 1952, just east of First Avenue in Maywood.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 419 is eastbound in June 1952, just east of First Avenue in Maywood.

In this original red border Kodachrome slide, we see a two-car train of CTA wooden "L" cars, possibly on a fantrip, on the ground-level section of the Garfield Park "L" (possibly Central or Austin?). The date is April 14, 1957. In the foreground, we see a new temporary track alignment under construction.

In this original red border Kodachrome slide, we see a two-car train of CTA wooden “L” cars, possibly on a fantrip, on the ground-level section of the Garfield Park “L” (possibly Central or Austin?). The date is April 14, 1957. In the foreground, we see a new temporary track alignment under construction.

CTA PCC 4168, a Pullman, heads west on diversion trackage along Chicago Avenue. This is a southbound Halsted car, probably circa 1952. This routing was used when the Halsted Street bridge over the Chicago River was out of service. The building in the background is the historic Montgomery Wards headquarters, a local landmark, at 618 W. Chicago Avenue.

CTA PCC 4168, a Pullman, heads west on diversion trackage along Chicago Avenue. This is a southbound Halsted car, probably circa 1952. This routing was used when the Halsted Street bridge over the Chicago River was out of service. The building in the background is the historic Montgomery Wards headquarters, a local landmark, at 618 W. Chicago Avenue.

On January 1, 1947, Chicago Surface Lines 789 heads south on Damen Avenue at the intersection of Lincoln and Irving Park Road. I lived about a block away from here in the 1980s and this neighborhood is known as North Center.

On January 1, 1947, Chicago Surface Lines 789 heads south on Damen Avenue at the intersection of Lincoln and Irving Park Road. I lived about a block away from here in the 1980s and this neighborhood is known as North Center.

This photo, taken at the CTA's South Shops in the second half of 1956, shows various prewar PCCs (including 4006) that were out of service following the bustitution of Route 49 - Western. Trolley poles have already been removed, and it appears that seat frames are stacked nearby. From an original medium format transparency.

This photo, taken at the CTA’s South Shops in the second half of 1956, shows various prewar PCCs (including 4006) that were out of service following the bustitution of Route 49 – Western. Trolley poles have already been removed, and it appears that seat frames are stacked nearby. From an original medium format transparency.

CTA 6573 is shown in Pekin, Illinois, on its way from the St. Louis Car Company to Chicago in the mid-1950s. Once on CTA property, it will be coupled with 6574 as a permanently married pair.

CTA 6573 is shown in Pekin, Illinois, on its way from the St. Louis Car Company to Chicago in the mid-1950s. Once on CTA property, it will be coupled with 6574 as a permanently married pair.

Queensboro Bridge trolleys 601 and 611 at Queens Plaza on April 19, 1949. This bridge line was abandoned in 1957 and was the last trolley operation in the state of New York. These cars were called "Electromobiles," and were built by Osgood Bradley in the late 1920s.

Queensboro Bridge trolleys 601 and 611 at Queens Plaza on April 19, 1949. This bridge line was abandoned in 1957 and was the last trolley operation in the state of New York. These cars were called “Electromobiles,” and were built by Osgood Bradley in the late 1920s.

CTA PCC 4396, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is southbound on Clark Street, having just crossed the Chicago River, on July 9, 1957. This is from an original 35mm Kodachrome slide, processed by Technicolor.

CTA PCC 4396, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is southbound on Clark Street, having just crossed the Chicago River, on July 9, 1957. This is from an original 35mm Kodachrome slide, processed by Technicolor.

The Chicago Aurora & Elgin's Wheaton Yards on April 13, 1957. From an original red border Kodachrome.

The Chicago Aurora & Elgin’s Wheaton Yards on April 13, 1957. From an original red border Kodachrome.

Various North Shore Line cars are seen in Waukegan in June 1961, including 159. (F. R. Burke Photo)

Various North Shore Line cars are seen in Waukegan in June 1961, including 159. (F. R. Burke Photo)

New Steam Audio CD:

FTS
Farewell To Steam
Mister D’s Machine
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.99

Farewell To Steam
On February 6, 1955 the Santa Fe Railway ran a railfan train from Los Angeles to Barstow and back for the Railway Club of Southern California. This was Santa Fe’s last run powered by a steam locomotive over this route. The engine was a 4-8-4, #3759. We have used the original, rare 1955 mono version of this recording, and not the later 1958 reissue that had a bunch of echo added to create a fake stereo effect.

Mister D’s Machine
When diesel locomotives replaced steam in the 1950s, they offered a multitude of different sounds. This original 1963 stereo recording showcases the many sounds of diesels on the San Joaquin and Los Angeles Divisions of the Southern Pacific, including the Tahachappi Loop, an engineering feat that made modern railroading famous.

As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.

Total time – 72:56

Pre-Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There are three subway anniversaries this year 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!

Bibliographic information:

Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
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 will be published on October 1, 2018. Order your copy today, and it will be shipped on or about that date. 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:

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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)

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

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Milwaukee Streetcars, 60 Years On

523 on the Lakeside Belt Line shuttle.

523 on the Lakeside Belt Line shuttle.

This post features prolific author Larry Sakar, who looks back at the history of Milwaukee streetcars. While it has now been 60 years since their demise, the new Milwaukee streetcar line, aka “The Hop,” is just months away from operation. What goes around sometimes comes around!

Soon it will be possible to take new pictures of Milwaukee streetcars, as they will be tested this summer.  Operators are being hired, and testing out on the streets may start as early as next month.

Our thanks go out to Larry for producing another excellent article about a topic he obviously loves so much.

-David Sadowski

Milwaukee Streetcars, 60 Years On

by Larry Sakar

March 1, 2018 marked the 60th anniversary of the last regularly scheduled streetcar in Milwaukee. I use the term “regularly scheduled” because streetcar service on the Lakeside Belt Line employee shuttle between the Lakeside Power Plant and Kinnickinnic Avenue continued until 1961. Though intended solely for use by employees of the power plant, some Milwaukee streetcar fans were able to ride it as far as the power plant gates, according to a number of sources.

Although I have written about the Milwaukee Rapid Transit line and the interurbans, I was only 8 months old when Speedrail ran its last miles, so I never saw nor had the pleasure of experiencing it. But the streetcars were a different story. I was 7 years old when the last cars on Route 10 Wells Street made their final runs on March 1, 1958.

My grandmother who introduced me to the thrill of riding the streetcar and I did ride the “10” on that last day. In fact, except for one very early ride on Route 11-Vliet Street a week or so before service west of downtown was converted to buses, all of my streetcar rides were on Route 10 and always between the Harwood Avenue terminal on Wauwatosa and 4th & Wells Streets downtown. We did take a ride on the West Allis branch just one time, but I am unable to recall it beyond only the vaguest recollection.

First, we will look at the earliest beginnings of streetcars in Milwaukee thru the 700 series cars. In the final years of streetcar operation by The Transport Company (The Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corp. which bought out TMER&T in November of 1952), only the 800 and 900 series streetcars were left and those are the cars I rode. Being only 7 years old when the cars quit I obviously did not keep any record of which cars I rode. To me, a streetcar was a streetcar!

Like most cities, Milwaukee streetcars were horse-drawn or cable cars before electrification. Milwaukee had several independent systems, such as the Milwaukee City Railway Company (March 1865), the West Side Street Railway Company (July 1875), and the Milwaukee Cable Railway Company (December 1887). The very first electric streetcar line was operated by the West Side Railway Company on test run over their new Wells-Wisconsin line on April 3, 1890.

After various sales, takeovers and consolidations, electric streetcar service in Milwaukee was taken over by the newly formed The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company on January 29, 1896. From that day until September 23, 1938 when TMER&L was split into two companies because of the 1935 Utilities Holdings Act (which declared companies providing both electric power and transportation monopolies had to divest one or the other), TMER&L would operate all streetcar and interurban service in Milwaukee.

Thereafter, the newly formed The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Company (or “The Transport Company” for short) took over all rail operations as well as trackless trolley and bus service. Both TMER&L and TMER&T always insisted on use of the definite article as part of their company name.

In November 1952, TMER&T was sold to a group of investors from Milwaukee, Chicago and Indianapolis. The newly formed Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corporation continued to use “The Transport Company” appellation until municipal ownership finally came to Milwaukee with the formation of the Milwaukee County Transit System in July, 1975.

TMER&T had initially offered the city of Milwaukee “first crack” at buying it out but the city was not interested. The “Transport Company” name became so ingrained in the minds of the riding public that it was several years before the new MCTS name caught on.

TMER&L was well aware of its “horse car roots” and actually preserved a horse car. It was on display on the second floor of the company’s corporate headquarters in the Public Service Building on North 2nd and West Michigan Streets for many years. It would be brought out on special occasions, such as this city celebration as shown in this 1921 article from the Electric Railway Journal. A photo of one of Milwaukee’s first electric streetcars graced an MCTS weekly pass in the 1980s. Other events such as the 20th anniversary of the “last streetcar” were commemorated on this 1978 weekly pass.

The Good News

It has taken 60 years, but streetcars are coming back to Milwaukee starting this Fall. The new 2.3 mile Milwaukee streetcar circulator line is expected to begin service on November 25th of this year. A 0.75 mile extension to the lakefront and Summerfest grounds is slated to follow in 2019. The new streetcar will be called “The HOP”. Thanks to Potawatomie Hotel and Casino, the first year of operation will be free. The line will begin at 4th and St. Paul Avenue, adjacent to the Milwaukee Intermodal station which will be handy for anyone coming up to Milwaukee from Chicago on Amtrak or from the west on the Empire Builder.

No PCCs?

You’ll note that there are no pictures of TM PCCs. Thats because TM never bought any. TM President Sylvester B. Way was a member of the Electric Railway Presidents Conference Committee. In their book, “PCC: The Car That Fought Back” (Interurban Press, 1980) authors Stephen P. Carlson and Fred W. Schneider III provided this 1936 quote from S.B. Way:

“I think it is very clear now that certain companies will be able to make very little, if any, use so far as they are concerned of these improvements, either because the rail transportation is disappearing in their areas or because it just isn’t in the business.”

Apparently, Way had joined the ERPCC thinking it was going to provide ways to improve existing streetcars not build an entirely new car. Every streetcar TM ever built or bought was double-ended. This eliminated the need for turning loops at the end of the lines.

If TM were to have purchased PCCs they would have been faced with two alternatives; either build turning loops at the end of every streetcar line (completely impractical if not impossible in quite a few locations like Harwood Ave. and 70th & Greenfield on Rt. 10 or Delaware and Oklahoma Aves. at the south end of Rt. 15). This would have left TM with but one other option; buy double-ended PCCs . Then there were all of the various patent and licensing fees connected to the PCCs. TM was notoriously cheap. S.B. Way would not hear of it!

When Way said that some companies just weren’t in the business he was probably referring to TM. By the time the first PCCs went into service on the Brooklyn & Queens Railway in New York in 1936 TM had turned its back on streetcars. The management had fallen in love with trolley buses and conversions from rail to rubber soon started. The corporate split in 1938 only exacerbated the matter. Had it not been for the intervention of WWII streetcars in Milwaukee would have been history long before March 1958. And even if TM had purchased PCCs, it would done little to change the anti-rail sentiment that prevailed from 1936 on.

The 300-Series Articulated Streetcars

TMER&L was noted for their frugality. As such, they were very fond of articulated streetcars dating back to the early 1900s. Here we see unit 338-339 awaiting scrapping at the Waukesha Gravel Pit in 1948 photo by TM Motorman Ed Wilson. All Milwaukee streetcars thru the 700-series met their end at the gravel pit, until the demise of Speedrail in June 1951. The last cars scrapped here were those belonging to Speedrail between March and October 1952.

300-series city cars being scrapped at the Waukesha gravel pit. (Ed Wilson photo)

300-series city cars being scrapped at the Waukesha gravel pit. (Ed Wilson photo)

The 500-Series Cars

The first 500-series car debuted on April 30, 1911. Initially built to be two-man cars they were first assigned to the Wells- Downer Line (Route 10). Rumor is that in retaliation for resident complaints about noisy streetcars, TM President John I. Beggs (who designed the cars) ordered the floors to be constructed of 6 inch thick concrete. But according to historical research, that rumor was not true. These would be TMs last deck-roofed cars. From this point on all Milwaukee streetcars would have arch roofs.

In the early ’20s TM became committed to one-man operation and began converting the 600s by removing the large pot-bellied stove from the front platform and installing electric heating. Controls and door arrangements were also redone to permit one-man operation.

The conversion to one-man service was not without its problems. In 1921, the City of Milwaukee actually swore out a complaint against TM company officials claiming that the conversion to one-man operation of streetcars violated a 1919 city ordinance forbidding the operation of any streetcar by less then two men. TMER&L fired back by showing that the Wisconsin Railroad Commission, the state body that oversaw all rail operations in the state (and predecessor to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin which it became in 1930) had approved one-man operation.

The accompanying articles from the company’s house organ “Rail & Wire” show how the 500s were converted into one-man cars. Note the fare box (item 15) seen in one of the photos. These were homemade fare boxes and they lasted into the MCTS era. On the front of the fare box was a metal sign which read “PASSENGERS PLEASE PLACE FARE IN BOX. CONDUCTORS NOT PERMITTED TO HANDLE FARE.” I often wondered what bus riders unaware of Milwaukee transit history made of the sign. Eventually, MCTS pasted a sticker over the sign. These fare boxes became unusable after fares topped $1.00, as they were not designed to handle paper money which caused them to jam.

The TM book (“TM: The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company” by Joseph M. Canfield, Bulletin 112 of the Central Electric Railfans Association, 1972) mentions that some of the 500-series cars had Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum dispensers mounted on the posts between every two or three windows. That is true. My late father once mentioned riding the Route 15 streetcar out to one of the prestigious country clubs in Milwaukee’s north shore suburbs and seeing them. As a teenager he worked as a caddie and among the people for whom he caddied was Chicagos Phillip K. Wrigley. I can still hear him telling me about the experience: “That old man Wrigley was a cheapskate. He would tip the caddies a nickel and a stick of gum! What a tightwad!”

The 500-series cars were all scrapped between 1948 and 1952. The lone survivor was car 523 which operated on the Lakeside Belt Line shuttle until 1954 when it was replaced by car 882. Then 500s, by the way were the first streetcars to wear the new orange and ivory paint scheme adopted for one man cars.

TM 600s and 500s awaiting scrapping at Oakland Station in 1949.

TM 600s and 500s awaiting scrapping at Oakland Station in 1949.

TM 576 Front close-up on Route 15.

TM 576 Front close-up on Route 15.

The 600-Series Cars

The 600-series cars were less than half the length of a 500. Of the 60 cars in this series, 30 were built in TM’s Cold Spring Shops and 30 came from TM’s streetcar builder St. Louis Car Company. I call St. Louis TM’s streetcar builder because they constructed nearly every streetcar that ran in Milwaukee.

What made St. Louis Car Company so much better than other builders like Pullman or J.G. Brill? St. Louis Car Company was part of the North American Company which also happened to be TMs parent company. And after being forced out of TM in 1911 John I. Beggs became president of St. Louis Car Company. He eventually worked his way back into TM in 1920 and served as TM’s president until his death in October 1925.

The 600s were among the most ubiquitous streetcars ever built. Upon their arrival in 1912 they were initially placed in service on the Route 12 service to North Milwaukee, paired with 1200-series interurban trailers. The article reproduced here describes that service and comes from Electric Railway Journal. In 1927-28, ten of the 600s (601-610) were upgraded for service on the line to Cudahy and South Milwaukee. The upgrade included globe lights, smoking compartments and leather seats. Two cars of this series (604-605) also saw service on the Local West Side Rapid Transit line to West Junction, before the line was completed between 8th and 40th Streets.

Like the 500s, TM attempted to convert the 600s into one-man cars but the attempt failed. The platform on the 600-series cars were too small to accommodate both boarding and disembarking passengers. Only seven of the 600s were ever so converted. The 600s became the cars seen on Routes 19 and 37 where they proved to be ideal. Their days of service came to an end when Route 19 service was converted to trackless trolley operation in March 1948.

Three cars initially escaped the scrapper’s torch. Cars 626 and 636 saw service on the Lakeside Shuttle until they were replaced by 882, after which they too met their end at the Waukesha Gravel Pit. In 1949, car 607 was purchased from TMER&T by a railfan group called the Railroad Historical Foundation. 607 was chosen because it was the last 600 to go through Cold Spring Shops.

The car was stored at the yards adjacent to the never-completed subway at 8th and Hibernia Streets. Periodic work sessions were held to restore the car. The group’s ultimate goal was to restore the car completely, then move it out to the Municipality of East Troy Railway, where they were hoping to establish a trolley museum. Approximately 3/4ths of the canvas roof had been replaced when Speedrail was abandoned on June 30, 1951. The group was subsequently informed by scrapper Hyman-Michaels Co. that unless the car was removed from the Speedrail property it would be taken to Waukesha and scrapped. With most of the group members drafted into the military because of the Korean War, no one was left to find it a new home and it was sold for scrap.

TM 636 on the Lakeside Belt Line shuttle.

TM 636 on the Lakeside Belt Line shuttle.

TM 660 at North Side Station, 3-31-48.

TM 660 at North Side Station, 3-31-48.

TM 660 at Fiebrantz Station, 3-31-48.

TM 660 at Fiebrantz Station, 3-31-48.

The 700-Series Cars

The TM book refers to these as the “awful 700s.” Built in 1917 as center-entrance cars and complete with jumpers for multiple unit operation in trains of two or three cars, they represented a radical shift in Milwaukee streetcar design. They were apparently ill-suited to TM’s needs from the start.

The 700s were rebuilt as one-man cars in the 1920s. This involved removing the center doors and raising the level of the floor. End doors were added and m.u. controls removed.

As bus substitutions for streetcars increased the cars saw use only in rush hour tripper service. All were retired by 1953.

A TM 700-series car at National Avenue car station. (Herb Danneman collection)

A TM 700-series car at National Avenue car station. (Herb Danneman collection)

TM 600s and 700s being scrapped at the Waukesha gravel pit in 1949. (Ed Wilson photo)

TM 600s and 700s being scrapped at the Waukesha gravel pit in 1949. (Ed Wilson photo)

Loading wheel sets from scrapped 600s and 700s. (Ed Wilson photo)

Loading wheel sets from scrapped 600s and 700s. (Ed Wilson photo)

The 800s

Car 850 as originally built, location unknown. (Collection of Robert Genack)

Car 850 as originally built, location unknown. (Collection of Robert Genack)

Two 800's and two Twin Coach buses meet at 3rd and State. (Robert Genack collection)

Two 800’s and two Twin Coach buses meet at 3rd and State. (Robert Genack collection)

Two 800s and a 500 meet at Northside station. (Robert Genack collection)

Two 800s and a 500 meet at Northside station. (Robert Genack collection)

803 at the north end of Rt. 27 - 35th & Silver Spring. (Don Ross photo)

803 at the north end of Rt. 27 – 35th & Silver Spring. (Don Ross photo)

Car 804.

Car 804.

845 at Bolivar and Howell Avenues in the 1940's. (Duane Matuszak collection)

845 at Bolivar and Howell Avenues in the 1940’s. (Duane Matuszak collection)

866 eastbound on 7th and Mitchell Streets. (Robert Genack collection)

866 eastbound on 7th and Mitchell Streets. (Robert Genack collection)

870 at the south end of Rt. 40 in St. Francis - Kinnickinnic & St. Francis Ave. (Robert Genack collection)

870 at the south end of Rt. 40 in St. Francis – Kinnickinnic & St. Francis Ave. (Robert Genack collection)

Car 871.

Car 871.

The 900s

A 900 and a snow sweeper stuck in a drift on West Lisbon Avenue in 1947.

A 900 and a snow sweeper stuck in a drift on West Lisbon Avenue in 1947.

I originally identified this as an 800 stuck in a snowdrift on Lisbon Ave. in the famous Blizzard of '47. I just ran across the collection of "Remember When" articles that used to run in the Milwaukee Journal and found the same picture. It looks like it's a 900 and the caption says it's stuck on 27th & Brown. If you can't see the center window of an 800 or 900 head-on, it's hard to tell which it is.

I originally identified this as an 800 stuck in a snowdrift on Lisbon Ave. in the famous Blizzard of ’47. I just ran across the collection of “Remember When” articles that used to run in the Milwaukee Journal and found the same picture. It looks like it’s a 900 and the caption says it’s stuck on 27th & Brown. If you can’t see the center window of an 800 or 900 head-on, it’s hard to tell which it is.

907 as originally built., at an unknown location. (Robert Genack collection)

907 as originally built., at an unknown location. (Robert Genack collection)

913 Northbound at 84th and National. (Don Ross photo)

913 Northbound at 84th and National. (Don Ross photo)

TM 916 is eastbound, passing National car station at 27th and National.

TM 916 is eastbound, passing National car station at 27th and National.

943 at 3rd and Michigan - TM publicity shot. (Robert Genack collection)

943 at 3rd and Michigan – TM publicity shot. (Robert Genack collection)

947 at Fond du Lac station, the north end of Rt. 23. (Ed Wilson photo)

947 at Fond du Lac station, the north end of Rt. 23. (Ed Wilson photo)

964 at 81st and Greenfield. WTL Waukesha bus following. (Don Ross photo)

964 at 81st and Greenfield. WTL Waukesha bus following. (Don Ross photo)

A publicity shot of 976 at 38th and McKinley outside Cold Spring shops. (Larry Sakar collection)

A publicity shot of 976 at 38th and McKinley outside Cold Spring shops. (Larry Sakar collection)

TM 978 on Rt. 13 on Clybourn near Cass and Michigan Streets. (Herb Danneman collection)

TM 978 on Rt. 13 on Clybourn near Cass and Michigan Streets. (Herb Danneman collection)

979 at 37th and National, on the last run of Rt. 18, 11-25-55. (Herb Danneman photo)

979 at 37th and National, on the last run of Rt. 18, 11-25-55. (Herb Danneman photo)

TM 993 at Howell and Howard. Note car in pocket ahead. (Don Ross photo)

TM 993 at Howell and Howard. Note car in pocket ahead. (Don Ross photo)

The front platform of a TM 900.

The front platform of a TM 900.

Interior view of a 900-series car with leather seats. (Herb Danneman photo)

Interior view of a 900-series car with leather seats. (Herb Danneman photo)

Winter 1955-1956

With the conversion of so many streetcar lines to either trolleybus or diesel bus operation by this time, The Transport Company (M&STC) found itself short of space at several car stations for new GM diesel and second-hand Marmon-Herrington trolley buses. A decision was made to move about ten surplus streetcars to the County Stadium storage track.

This was not a scrap line, but merely what the company thought would be a safe, out-of-the-way place to store cars. They incorrectly assumed that with no one living nearby, the cars would go undisturbed. In the first photo car 925 shows just how “undisturbed” the cars were. Note the many holes in the front windows. The abundance of ballast on the right-of-way provided sufficient ammunition for vandals who just couldn’t resist sending rocks through the car windows. Other cars like 929, seen in the second photo as well as 933, were also part of this group. According to former Milwaukee resident Al Buetschle who saved TM 978, the end result was that all ten cars went to the scrapper after being stored in the Calvary Cemetery cut on the stadium spur.

Car 925 at the Hawley Road platform in the winter of 1955-56. Note the many holes from rocks thrown through the car windows. (Ed Wilson photo)

Car 925 at the Hawley Road platform in the winter of 1955-56. Note the many holes from rocks thrown through the car windows. (Ed Wilson photo)

Car 929 and others stored on the County Stadium spur in the winter of 1955-1956. (Don Ross photo)

Car 929 and others stored on the County Stadium spur in the winter of 1955-1956. (Don Ross photo)

Cars With Special Paint Jobs

An 800 series car advertising the benefits of an "Army Career" passes Milwaukee City Hall northbound on N. Water Street. (Larry Sakar collection)

An 800 series car advertising the benefits of an “Army Career” passes Milwaukee City Hall northbound on N. Water Street. (Larry Sakar collection)

TM 871 (painted for fire prevention week) is seen at 19th and Hopkins Streets on Rt. 12. (Earl Ruhland photo)

TM 871 (painted for fire prevention week) is seen at 19th and Hopkins Streets on Rt. 12. (Earl Ruhland photo)

A 900 painted with an ad for the U.S. Air Force pauses in front of National Car station at 27th and National on Rt. 18. (Larry Sakar collection)

A 900 painted with an ad for the U.S. Air Force pauses in front of National Car station at 27th and National on Rt. 18. (Larry Sakar collection)

Passes, Time Tables, Transfers, and Car Checks

I have a number of TM passes from the 1930s and ’40s. I also have a Milwaukee streetcar transfer and a very early “commutation ticket.” These were later replaced with smaller tickets. TM just called them tickets, but my grandmother always called them “(street) car checks.”

I remember the first time we were going downtown after streetcar service ended in March ’58. She reached into her purse and tore off a car check for herself and one for me. The ones I recall had a drawing of a streetcar, trolleybus and diesel bus on one side and “The Transport Company” in the companys diamond logo on the reverse.

I asked if we were going to ride the streetcar again . After all, how could you have car checks with0out streetcars? She said, “There are no more streetcars. They were all taken off of the line.” I didn’t understand how that could be until she told me that they could also be used on buses. For a second I held out hope that The Transport Company had changed their mind and decided to keep streetcars, but there was no reprieve.

Here are some samples of passes and timetables. Also, the early car check had the Public Service Building on the back side. The two passes from the present-day MCTS era commemorate streetcar anniversaries which is why I included them. The type of “car check” I remember has also been scanned. My memory was playing tricks on me. The diamond logo was not on it.

The reason it says “Good within the single fare area of Milwaukee only” is because Milwaukee had what were called zone fares. They could vary from as few as one zone to as many as four on the South Milwaukee-Cudahy line. Each zone was an additional five cents in fare. In the ’60s I used to love to ride the Route 80 bus to Mitchell Field and watch planes. Mitchell Airport was two zones, so you had to drop ten cents in the fare box when you got on or off there. You’ll see a couple of weekly passes with coupons attached. The coupon, which raised the cost of the pass, entitled you to ride into as many zones as was indicated on the coupon without having to pay an extra cash fare.

A TMER&L streetcar transfer (front).

A TMER&L streetcar transfer (front).

A TMER&L streetcar transfer (back).

A TMER&L streetcar transfer (back).

One of the very first TM weekly passes.

One of the very first TM weekly passes.

An early TM car check (front).

An early TM car check (front).

An early TM car check (back).

An early TM car check (back).

The Route 10 timetable for May 29, 1955.

The Route 10 timetable for May 29, 1955.

The Route 11 timetable for December 19, 1955.

The Route 11 timetable for December 19, 1955.

An M&STC car check (back).

An M&STC car check (back).

An M&STC car check (front).

An M&STC car check (front).

Miscellaneous Photos

After 1958, the next time I saw a Milwaukee streetcar was when 978 (saved by Al Buetschle) was on the temporary storage track net to General Lumber Company on Milwaukee’s northwest side. That was where Al and a friend of his worked on repainting and doing work on the interior of the car. The Milwaukee Journal ran a photo of Al and his friend working inside the car and that is how my grandparents found out it was there. His friend’s son was sitting in the motorman’s seat which brought back memories of the times I did the same.

In 1983 Al and his streetcar were reunited, when 978 was sent to San Francisco for the first historic streetcar festival. He had someone snap a picture of him putting up the trolley pole. I have this copy of it. The classic “T-Bird” convertible was Al’s. It was wrecked when he was hit by some teenagers out for a joy ride. Of course they were uninsured! The T-Bird was damaged beyond repair.

Al B. posing with his T-Bird and TM 978 in SFO 1983.

Al B. posing with his T-Bird and TM 978 in SFO 1983.

The Harwood Avenue Terminal Site on Route 10 today.

The Harwood Avenue Terminal Site on Route 10 today.

I took this photo at Des Plaines Ave. Forest Park on what was then the West-Northwest Rapid Transit line probably in the summer of 1972. I was standing on the blacktopped walkway to the parking lot and crouched down to get a view looking up at what was then one of the relatively new 2200 series cars.

I took this photo at Des Plaines Ave. Forest Park on what was then the West-Northwest Rapid Transit line probably in the summer of 1972. I was standing on the blacktopped walkway to the parking lot and crouched down to get a view looking up at what was then one of the relatively new 2200 series cars.

CTA 4000s in Linden Avenue yard ca. 1972.

CTA 4000s in Linden Avenue yard ca. 1972.

Tunnel beneath abandoned NSL r.o.w. at Rondout, Illinois, showing date built (1904). Taken 1992.

Tunnel beneath abandoned NSL r.o.w. at Rondout, Illinois, showing date built (1904). Taken 1992.

Tunnel beneath abandoned NSL r.o.w. at Rondout, Illinois, 1992.

Tunnel beneath abandoned NSL r.o.w. at Rondout, Illinois, 1992.

Abandoned NSL Mundelein Branch r.o.w. at Lake Bluff in`1992.

Abandoned NSL Mundelein Branch r.o.w. at Lake Bluff in`1992.

Abandoned NSL r.o.w. showing bracket for catenary on tower at right.

Abandoned NSL r.o.w. showing bracket for catenary on tower at right.

Abandoned NSL r.o.w. crossing Gross Point Road.

Abandoned NSL r.o.w. crossing Gross Point Road.

Abandoned NSL r.o.w. north of Dempster Street, Skokie.

Abandoned NSL r.o.w. north of Dempster Street, Skokie.

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.)

Check out our new book Chicago Trolleys. Signed copies are available through our Online Store.

This book makes an excellent gift and costs just $17.99 plus shipping. That’s $4.00 off the list price.

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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Recent Finds, 1-12-2018

Lehigh Valley Transit express freight car C7. built by Jewett in 1913, is seen here at the Fairview car barn in the 1940s.

Lehigh Valley Transit express freight car C7. built by Jewett in 1913, is seen here at the Fairview car barn in the 1940s.

Here are some of our recent photographic finds, which include some very rare scenes. In addition, we have some interesting correspondence, and great Chicago Aurora & Elgin pictures courtesy of Jack Bejna.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

PS- We note with great regret the passing of Al Reinschmidt, who was an occasional poster on the Chicagotransit Yahoo discussion group (as “Buslist”), and also left a few comments on this blog. We learned of his passing from the Illinois Railway Museum Facebook page:

We are saddened to report the passing of one of our regular volunteers, Al Reinschmidt. Al was a civil engineer known as one of the foremost experts on rail design and performance and worked on high speed rail projects around the world. At IRM he volunteered in our restoration shop and as a streetcar motorman but he was probably best known to visitors as one of the regular announcers at our Day Out With Thomas event and as the reader of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” during Happy Holiday Railway. His kindness, geniality and vast store of knowledge will be missed.

Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends. He will be missed by all who knew him.

Annual Fundraiser

In about 20 day’s time, our annual bill to fund this site and its web domain comes due.  That comes to $400, or just over $1 per day for the entire year.  So far, we have collected $60 of the required amount. If you have already contributed, we are particularly grateful.

If you enjoy reading this blog, and want to see it continue, we hope you will consider supporting it via a donation.  You can also purchase items from our Online Store. With your help, we cannot fail.

Recent Finds

Lehigh Valley Transit cars 701 (left) and 812 (right) on a fantrip, some time prior to the 1951 abandonment of interurban service on the Liberty Bell route.

Lehigh Valley Transit cars 701 (left) and 812 (right) on a fantrip, some time prior to the 1951 abandonment of interurban service on the Liberty Bell route.

CSL 6268 is at the east end of the 43rd - Root line (approximately 1146 E. 43rd Street) in the 1940s. In the background, you can see a pedestrian bridge over the nearby Illinois Central Electric tracks. 6268 was known as a Multiple Unit caar. Don's Rail Photos says, "6268 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1926. It was rebuilt as one man service in 1932." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 6268 is at the east end of the 43rd – Root line (approximately 1146 E. 43rd Street) in the 1940s. In the background, you can see a pedestrian bridge over the nearby Illinois Central Electric tracks. 6268 was known as a Multiple Unit caar. Don’s Rail Photos says, “6268 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1926. It was rebuilt as one man service in 1932.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

The same location today.

The same location today.

John Smatlak writes:

I really enjoyed seeing that photo of CSL 6268 is at the east end of the 43rd – Root line. This location was of course just a block away from the terminus of the Kenwood branch of the L. Here is a photo your readers may enjoy taken 11-12-28 of the L terminal and the Chicago Junction freight tracks that passed under the L at that location. Thanks!

"Though still carrying a faded passenger car paint scheme, and sporting a South Chicago - Sheffield route sign, CSL #2828 has long since entered work service to pull cars around the shops." Don's Rail Photos: "2828 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in July 1904, #242, as CERy 123. It became C&SC Ry 813 in 1908 and renumbered 2828 in 1913. It became CSL 2828 in 1914 and scrapped in 1946." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

“Though still carrying a faded passenger car paint scheme, and sporting a South Chicago – Sheffield route sign, CSL #2828 has long since entered work service to pull cars around the shops.” Don’s Rail Photos: “2828 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in July 1904, #242, as CERy 123. It became C&SC Ry 813 in 1908 and renumbered 2828 in 1913. It became CSL 2828 in 1914 and scrapped in 1946.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CTA prewar PCC 7033 at 115th and Cottage Grove, the south end of Route 4, circa 1952-55. In the background, you can see the adjacent Illinois Central Electric embankment.

CTA prewar PCC 7033 at 115th and Cottage Grove, the south end of Route 4, circa 1952-55. In the background, you can see the adjacent Illinois Central Electric embankment.

CTA prewar PCC 4034, presumably at 71st and Ashland.

CTA prewar PCC 4034, presumably at 71st and Ashland.

The old Larrabee "L" station at North Avenue. This station was also called Larrabee and Ogden, after Ogden was extended north between 1926 and 1930. It was closed by the CTA in 1949 as part of a service revision.

The old Larrabee “L” station at North Avenue. This station was also called Larrabee and Ogden, after Ogden was extended north between 1926 and 1930. It was closed by the CTA in 1949 as part of a service revision.

These old wooden "L" cars may be in storage at Skokie Shops, before the facilities were expanded.

These old wooden “L” cars may be in storage at Skokie Shops, before the facilities were expanded.

This view looks north towards the Wilson "L" yard and shops. You can see the interlocking tower, and at left, part of the ramp down to Buena Yard, which was used for freight. Dan Cluley writes, "Looking at the Wilson Shops photo, am I correct that those are some of the piggyback flat cars in between the grass and the L structure?" I asked an expert. Here’s what J. J. Sedelmaier says: “It’s absolutely the NSL Ferry-Truck equipment! That’s the old Wilson Shops building in the background and that’s the north end of Montrose Yards and transfer station.” Bill Shapotkin says this is Montrose Tower.

This view looks north towards the Wilson “L” yard and shops. You can see the interlocking tower, and at left, part of the ramp down to Buena Yard, which was used for freight. Dan Cluley writes, “Looking at the Wilson Shops photo, am I correct that those are some of the piggyback flat cars in between the grass and the L structure?” I asked an expert. Here’s what J. J. Sedelmaier says: “It’s absolutely the NSL Ferry-Truck equipment! That’s the old Wilson Shops building in the background and that’s the north end of Montrose Yards and transfer station.” Bill Shapotkin says this is Montrose Tower.

Wilson Yard and Shops. Note the North Shore Line freight station at lower left. (J. J. Sedelmaier Collection)

Wilson Yard and Shops. Note the North Shore Line freight station at lower left. (J. J. Sedelmaier Collection)

Although this is not the sharpest picture, it does show the Austin Boulevard station on the Garfield park "L", probably circa 1954. We are looking east. To the left, you can see the southern edge of Columbus Park. At the far left, temporary tracks are already being built, which the "L" would shift to in this area on August 29, 1954. This is the present site of the Eisenhower Expressway.

Although this is not the sharpest picture, it does show the Austin Boulevard station on the Garfield park “L”, probably circa 1954. We are looking east. To the left, you can see the southern edge of Columbus Park. At the far left, temporary tracks are already being built, which the “L” would shift to in this area on August 29, 1954. This is the present site of the Eisenhower Expressway.

Here, we are looking east along Van Buren, just west of Paulina. The tracks in the foreground are the temporary Garfield Park "L" right of way. The Congress (later Eisenhower) expressway is under construction to the right, with the Douglas Park "L" in the background. This photo was probably taken in early 1954. The Garfield Park "L" west of Paulina has already been demolished, but the Marshfield station still appears intact. This could not be removed until the Douglas line was re-reouted over the Lake Street "L".

Here, we are looking east along Van Buren, just west of Paulina. The tracks in the foreground are the temporary Garfield Park “L” right of way. The Congress (later Eisenhower) expressway is under construction to the right, with the Douglas Park “L” in the background. This photo was probably taken in early 1954. The Garfield Park “L” west of Paulina has already been demolished, but the Marshfield station still appears intact. This could not be removed until the Douglas line was re-reouted over the Lake Street “L”.

CTA 6123-6124 on the outer end of the Douglas Park line, probably in the early 1950s.

CTA 6123-6124 on the outer end of the Douglas Park line, probably in the early 1950s.

This is an unusual picture, as it shows the Calvary "L" station in Evanston, which was a flag stop in both directions. Located opposite the entrance to Calvary cemetery, this station closed in 1931 and was replaced by South Boulevard a few blocks north. This view looks north from the southern edge of the cemetery. As you can see, the platforms appear relatively short. They were removed in the 1930s, but the rest of the station was not demolished until 1995. This photo probably dates to around 1930.

This is an unusual picture, as it shows the Calvary “L” station in Evanston, which was a flag stop in both directions. Located opposite the entrance to Calvary cemetery, this station closed in 1931 and was replaced by South Boulevard a few blocks north. This view looks north from the southern edge of the cemetery. As you can see, the platforms appear relatively short. They were removed in the 1930s, but the rest of the station was not demolished until 1995. This photo probably dates to around 1930.

A close-up of the Calvary station.

A close-up of the Calvary station.

J.J. Sedelmaier writes:

Does ANYone have shots of the Calvary stop on the “L” while still in service, prior to the opening of South Boulevard in 1930?

I think we may have something (see above).

J.J. replies:

YES !! I saw this last week ! So exciting ! The best shot so far, and I’ve been searching for decades !! Thanks for the heads-up David !!

The funny thing is, the photographer, whoever it was, doesn’t seem to have been trying to take a picture of the Calvary station at all. Otherwise, they surely would have moved in a lot closer first. It is a picture of a largely empty street, that just happens to show the station in the distance, which at the time was probably considered fairly unimportant.

J.J. continues:

Here are the shots I have here. I took the 1970’s pics. Bruce Moffat took the 1994 pics. The 1931 shot is a company photo that I got from Malcolm D. MacCarter in the mid-90s.

This January 12, 1931 photo shows the South Boulevard station under construction. It was in a better location from the standpoint of patronage, and replaced the Calvary station a few blocks away (which you can see in the distance). (Chicago Rapid Transit Company Photo)

This January 12, 1931 photo shows the South Boulevard station under construction. It was in a better location from the standpoint of patronage, and replaced the Calvary station a few blocks away (which you can see in the distance). (Chicago Rapid Transit Company Photo)

A close-up of the previous image, showing the Calvary station in the distance.

A close-up of the previous image, showing the Calvary station in the distance.

The entrance to the former Calvary station, as it appeared in 1970 when it was being used by a monument company. (J. J. Sedelmaier Photo)

The entrance to the former Calvary station, as it appeared in 1970 when it was being used by a monument company. (J. J. Sedelmaier Photo)

A side view of the former Calvary station in 1970. The platforms were removed in the 1930s and hardly any photos exist showing them in service. (J. J. Sedelmaier Photo)

A side view of the former Calvary station in 1970. The platforms were removed in the 1930s and hardly any photos exist showing them in service. (J. J. Sedelmaier Photo)

Bruce Moffat took this picture on February 15, 1994 just before the station entrance was demolished.

Bruce Moffat took this picture on February 15, 1994 just before the station entrance was demolished.

The interior of the former Calvary "L" station as it appeared on February 15, 1994. (Bruce Moffat Photo)

The interior of the former Calvary “L” station as it appeared on February 15, 1994. (Bruce Moffat Photo)

In addition, here is a classic shot that Mr. Sedelmaier shared with us:

On July 23, 1955, John D. Emery, then president of the Evanston Historical Society, purchased the last Shore Line ticket sold at the Church Street station from agent George Kennedy. The ticket window was closed the following day (Sunday), and the last Shore Line train ran in the early hours of July 25 (Monday). The ticket remains in the Historical Society collection. Emery was later (1962-1970) the mayor of Evanston, during which time he vetoed an anti-discrimination housing ordinance. (Evanston Photographic Service/J.J. Sedelmaier Collection Photo)

On July 23, 1955, John D. Emery, then president of the Evanston Historical Society, purchased the last Shore Line ticket sold at the Church Street station from agent George Kennedy. The ticket window was closed the following day (Sunday), and the last Shore Line train ran in the early hours of July 25 (Monday). The ticket remains in the Historical Society collection. Emery was later (1962-1970) the mayor of Evanston, during which time he vetoed an anti-discrimination housing ordinance. (Evanston Photographic Service/J.J. Sedelmaier Collection Photo)

(J.J. Sedelmaier Collection)

(J.J. Sedelmaier Collection)

Chicago & Calumet District Transit Company (aka Hammond, Whiting & East chicago) car 70 in Hammond. In our post More Hoosier Traction (September 2, 2015), we ran another photo that appears to have been taken at the same time as this. If so, the date is February 1939. There is some damage to this old print, in the area around car 70's headlight. Trolley service here ended in 1940. (Richard J. Anderson Photo)

Chicago & Calumet District Transit Company (aka Hammond, Whiting & East chicago) car 70 in Hammond. In our post More Hoosier Traction (September 2, 2015), we ran another photo that appears to have been taken at the same time as this. If so, the date is February 1939. There is some damage to this old print, in the area around car 70’s headlight. Trolley service here ended in 1940. (Richard J. Anderson Photo)

Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee wood car 300 on a fantrip on the streets of Waukegan circa 1940. From 1939 until 1942, the North Shore Line allowed Central Electric Railfans' Association to use 300 as their "club car." Here, we see it parked in front of Immaculate Conception school.

Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee wood car 300 on a fantrip on the streets of Waukegan circa 1940. From 1939 until 1942, the North Shore Line allowed Central Electric Railfans’ Association to use 300 as their “club car.” Here, we see it parked in front of Immaculate Conception school.

North Shore Line car 731 (and train) at the Wisconsin State Fair, possibly circa 1930. In order to access the fairgrounds, North Shore Line cars had to get there via the Milwaukee Electric. Incompatibilities between the two interurbans' wheel profiles resulted in wheel damage to the NSL.

North Shore Line car 731 (and train) at the Wisconsin State Fair, possibly circa 1930. In order to access the fairgrounds, North Shore Line cars had to get there via the Milwaukee Electric. Incompatibilities between the two interurbans’ wheel profiles resulted in wheel damage to the NSL.

The North Shore Line in Highland Park, circa 1930. Here, we are looking north along the Shore Line Route, which quit in 1955. NSL tracks ran parallel to the nearby Chicago & North Western commuter line, which would be to the left of this view.

The North Shore Line in Highland Park, circa 1930. Here, we are looking north along the Shore Line Route, which quit in 1955. NSL tracks ran parallel to the nearby Chicago & North Western commuter line, which would be to the left of this view.

The information on the back of this picture says we are looking south from Central Avenue in Highland Park. At right, thiee are North Shore Line tracks on the old Shore Line Route. A small shelter is visible at right. This picture is circa 1930. The area the North Shore Line once occupied is now a parking lot.

The information on the back of this picture says we are looking south from Central Avenue in Highland Park. At right, thiee are North Shore Line tracks on the old Shore Line Route. A small shelter is visible at right. This picture is circa 1930. The area the North Shore Line once occupied is now a parking lot.

The same location today.

The same location today.

These photos have been added to our post The Fairmount Park Trolley (November 7, 2017), which included several other photos of the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway in Wildwood, New Jersey:

Five Mile Beach electric Railway car 27 at Atlantic and Oak Avenues in Wildwood, on the Angelsea-Crest line, June 1945. A bus is also visible. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach electric Railway car 27 at Atlantic and Oak Avenues in Wildwood, on the Angelsea-Crest line, June 1945. A bus is also visible. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach electric Railway cars 22 and 27 at the Wildwood carhouse on May 30, 1945, shortly before abandonment. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach electric Railway cars 22 and 27 at the Wildwood carhouse on May 30, 1945, shortly before abandonment. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 30 in the car barn, circa the mid-1940s. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 30 in the car barn, circa the mid-1940s. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Recent Correspondence

On June 26, 1960 a pair of CTA single-car units went out on a portion of the Lake Street "L", but apparently did not go on the ground-level portion of the route. Here, we see the train heading westbound at Clinton and Lake. (Charles L. Tauscher Photo)

On June 26, 1960 a pair of CTA single-car units went out on a portion of the Lake Street “L”, but apparently did not go on the ground-level portion of the route. Here, we see the train heading westbound at Clinton and Lake. (Charles L. Tauscher Photo)

Miles Beitler writes:

I was doing some online research recently and followed a link to a photo on your blog. The photo was posted under “Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part 6” and included the following in the caption:

“Here’s an interesting streetscape that could not be duplicated today. According to the back of the picture, it shows the view looking east from South Boulevard and Austin, on the eastern edge of Oak Park. The Lake Street “L”, where it ran on the ground, had a very narrow right-of-way that the 6000s, with their bulging sides, could not fit in.”

I have read similar comments posted by others, i.e., that the reason no 6000s were used on the Lake Street “L” is that the cars were too wide. While it’s true that the curved body 6000s were wider than the 4000s and wood cars, the difference was slight — not more than a foot at their widest point. So I don’t think that would explain why they weren’t used. I think a more logical explanation is that the ground level portion of the Lake Street “L” used trolley wire, and none of the original 6000s had trolley poles. (I believe that the only exception was one experimental high performance trainset (6127-6130) that was used in Evanston Express service.) You will note that the original “baldy” 4000s also were not used in Lake Street service for the same reason. The steel roofs of those 4000s made it very difficult to retrofit them with trolley poles.

By the time the western portion of the line was elevated and converted to third rail in 1962, the high performance 2000s were already ordered. So the CTA probably decided to just keep using the older cars until the 2000s arrived. Cars 1-50 did have trolley poles, but those cars were not received until shortly before the elevation of the Lake Street “L” at which time they would not have been needed anyway, so they were used on the Evanston line instead, and later some were used on the Skokie Swift.

Does this make sense, or am I all wet?

Either way, keep up your fantastic blog!

Thanks for writing. You have made an interesting hypothesis, which deserves consideration.

First of all, I have heard enough stories regarding the tight clearances on the ground-level portion of Lake to believe there was some sort of clearance problem that prevented the use of curved-sided rapid transit cars there. The most logical explanation so far is that this involved the gatemen’s shantys.

Having ridden the Lake Street “L” numerous times prior to the October 28, 1962 relocation of the outer portion of the route onto the C&NW embankment, I can assure you that clearances were very tight, as two tracks and platforms were shoehorned into a side street, which continued to have two-way auto traffic.

There was a fantrip on Lake during 1960 using one of the single-car units in the 1-50 series, and while this train did venture down to the lower level of Hamlin Yard, it apparently made no effort to go west of Laramie. You would think they would have done so had this been possible. (See photo above.)

Similar clearance restrictions have existed on other parts of the system. Skokie Swift cars that had pan trolleys fitted were not allowed to go downtown, and cars with poles cannot go into the Kimball subway. (At the moment, this restriction would only apply to 4271-4272.)

That being said, let us take a step back and review how the Lake Street “L” fit in with the strategic thinking of various planners over the decades.

In 1937, the City of Chicago proposed building an aerial highway on the Lake Street “L” structure, and some other “L”s such as Humboldt Park. In theory this would have been something like the West Side Elevated Highway in New York City, which was built between 1929 and 1951 and which partially collapsed in 1973.

Express bus service would have replaced the rapid transit line, as would have a beefed-up Garfield Park “L” in this plan. We can be glad this was not built.

By 1939, this plan was abandoned in favor of the Congress Parkway Expressway that was built starting a decade later, and opened in stages between 1955 and 1960.

The City was proposing various subways all over town, in addition to the State Street and Dearborn-Milwaukee tubes that were built starting in 1938. One goal was to tear down the Loop “L”, starting with the Lake and Wabash legs.

The Lake Street “L” would have been diverted into a subway connection just west of the Loop that of course was never built. Neither was a connection built to divert the Lake “L” into the Congress line via an elevated connection near Kedzie, or Kostner, although the CTA was still intent on doing these things as of 1948.

There is some question whether the entire Lake Street “L” might have been abandoned early in the CTA era, if not for the innovation of A/B “skip stop” service that was begun in 1948. This was so successful that it was gradually used on other parts of the CTA system.

When and how were curved-side “L” cars developed? It seems likely this idea, like many others, came from New York, where some experimental 1930s BMT railcars such as the so-called “Green Hornet” had mildly curved sides.

In Chicago, curved sides appeared on ten interurbans, #451-460 for the Chicago Aurora & Elgin, designed in 1941 but not built by St. Louis Car Company until 1945, as well as the two North Shore Line Electroliners.

These were followed by four experimental sets of articulated rapid transit cars $5001-5004, delivered in 1947-48. Except for the curved sides, largely patterned after the BMT “Bluebirds: from 1939-40.

Chicago’s Initial System of Subways was designed to allow for longer and wider cars, closer to New York standards. The City may have hoped these standards could gradually be applied to the entire system, but it was not to be.

When the Chicago Transit Authority took over from the Chicago Rapid Transit Company in 1947, one primary goal was to purchase enough new steel railcars to allow the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway to open. Another goal was to get rid of the wooden “L” cars, which were getting very old and were not permitted in the subways.

When the first 6000s were delivered starting in 1950, they were first used on Douglas, but that was for test purposes. After another year or two, CTA switched things around, so the new 6000s were used in the State Street subway, and the 4000s on the more lightly used Dearborn-Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, the last wood cars were used on Lake around 1955. The last wooden :”L” cars were used in service in 1957, by which time there were enough new 6000s on hand to permit their retirements.

But else what was happening on Lake during the 1950s? By 1951-5, CTA appears to have figured out that the “problem” portion of Lake was the outer end, not the parts east of Laramie. The first suggestion was to truncate the line to Laramie, but this did not go over well in Oak Park, so the various parties got together, and the embankment plan was the result.

These plans were finalized around 1958. The relocation took place in 1962, at which time the CTA probably hoped to have taken delivery on what became the 2000-series. But there were so many changes and innovations in these cars that delivery did not occur until 1964.

So yes, it does not appear that it was ever a high priority for the CTA to use 6000s on the ground-level portion of Lake. Wood cars were replaced by 4000s around 1955, which was considered a service improvement, and within three years from that, plans were afoot to relocate service anyway.

However, if the CTA had really wanted to run 6000s on Lake, I expect changes could have been made in the locations of whatever obstacles prevented it, and additional cars could have been equipped with trolley poles, as was done for Evanston.

I doubt these would have been single-car units, though, since those were intended for “off peak” one-man operation on Evanston, something which I don’t think would have been suitable on Lake.

As it was, I don’t recall seeing 6000s on Lake much before 1979. In the wake of that year’s blizzard, which shut down the line west of Laramie for a week, so many of the newer cars had burned-out motors that it became necessary to use the older 6000s.

I hope this answers your questions.

-David Sadowski

Miles Beitler again:

Dave, you obviously know FAR more about Chicago transit than I do. You could probably give Graham Garfield some stiff competition.

I believe you recently wrote a book about trolleys. I grew up not far from the terminal of the Clark Street car line at Howard Street and I remember riding the Green Hornets to the local branch of the Chicago public library. I also remember visiting my cousins who lived a block away from the Devon car barn and seeing all of the streetcars stored there. However, I’m more interested in the “L” and interurban history. I spent my childhood watching the North Shore Line trains, and I was fortunate enough to ride an Electroliner to Racine, Wisconsin about a year before the NSL folded.

Have you given or considered giving presentations about Chicago transit at schools, libraries, etc.? WTTW channel 11 might also like to use you as a resource on Chicago transit history or for the production of programs on the subject, similar to the ones produced by Geoffrey Baer over the past 25 years.

There are a number of people, several in fact, who qualify as experts on Chicago transit. We all tend to know each other to some extent, as we’re interested in many of the same things.

I don’t feel like I am competing with any of the other “experts.” We have each found our own niche, and have different contributions to make. In fact, this blog is only successful because it is based on sharing and cooperation.

Actually, I have given a number of presentations to various groups over the years.

WTTW actually did feature the Chicago PCC book I co-authored once on Chicago Tonight. You can read about it in our post A Window to the World of Streetcars (June 2, 2016).

Our pictures do get around. Several photos that I posted to the Internet ended up being featured in an article called Displaced, which tried to determine what happened to the people who were living in the path of the Congress expressway when it was built. (See our post Some Thoughts on Displaced, August 30, 2016.)

Who knows when or where our stuff will show up in the future. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Thanks.

Ron Smolen adds:

In your last post this comment was posted in the sections about 6000s on Lake street:

“You will note that the original “baldy” 4000s also were not used in Lake Street service for the same reason. The steel roofs of those 4000s made it very difficult to retrofit them with trolley poles.”

TRUE… however, near the end of the Baldies operations, I do recall seeing LIVE and in photos
some single baldies that were placed in trains with 4000 pole equipped cars that DID operate in regular service to Harlem under wire.

Ron adds that, according to www.chicago-l.org, “baldy” 4000s ran on Lake from 1959 to 1964, paired with pole-equipped “plushies.”

Jack Bejna writes:

A Tale of Two Pictures

A short time ago there was a question raised by a reader about changing original photographs with Photoshop, thereby eliminating the original intent of the image. As an example of what I do, refer to the first image of CA&E 209. From my experience of working with CA&E images, I believe that the image was captured at the Laramie Freight House area, but of course that is only a guess. My goal is to try to improve the original image and enhance the background while preserving the original intent of the photographer when the image was captured. With this image I decided to place Car 209 in a typical situation, that is, on one of the storage tracks behind the freight house. Further, I like the look of the Niles wood cars so I added the front of sister car 207 to present an unblocked image of Car 209. I spent the rest of my efforts on improving the photograph itself with Photoshop. The final result is pretty much the way I think it looked at the time and represents a cleaner roster shot of a classic Niles interurban.

 

Moving right along with the CA&E roster, here are some images of the work cars and locomotives that kept the railroad running.
-Jack

CA&E Express Cars – Line Cars – Locomotives – Tool Cars

CA&E rostered a variety of Motors to fit the job at hand. First, the Newspaper Special, obviously a motor that probably spent time doing whatever job was needed in addition to delivering newspapers. I’ve never found a number for this car or any record of when or how it was retired.

Next, express cars 9, 11, & 15 illustrate the differences in length, configuration, etc., in the CA&E roster. Line cars 11 and 45 are next. Car 45 was purchased from the Chicago & Interurban Traction when the line quit in 1927. When Car 45 was retired it was replaced by car 11, rebuilt as a line car.

Locomotive 3 was built as a double ended plow and was used as a work motor by removing the plows.

Next up are the CA&E locomotives, including 2001-2002 built by GE in 1920, 3003-3004 built by BLW-WH in 1923-4, and 4005-4006 built by Oklahoma Railway in 1929.

Finally, Tool Cars 7 and B are shown. Tool Car B was rebuilt from a boxcar.

Here are a few more CA&E freight motors. First is an image of 5-15 in a winter scene. Before the railroad purchased 2001-2002 these two cars were commonly used as locomotives on the freight trains. Second is tool car in an unusual paint scheme. I’m glad they didn’t paint all the motors like this! Finally, here is a scene of Line Car 45 in action on a line relocation in Aurora.

Here’s a real gem that I came across searching the Internet. CA&E had a fire in the early days that destroyed many of their records, photographs, etc., so much of the early days is lost forever. Somehow this image survived somewhere, and we are able to see what express car 4 looked like, albeit with a lot of Photoshop help. I have no idea who built it or when, and how long it lasted.

Enjoy!

Jack

As always, we thank Jack for sharing these wonderful photos.

Fernandes writes:

Hello. I’m doing some reading about bus history. In 1921, Fageol launched Safety Coach and then, Model 20 and 40. Then the Twin Coach style.

I found it very interesting that they always adopted a design style similar to trains and not cars.

Well, we are the product of our time. Back in 1920 when the Fageols designed their first bus, what style reference did they have? Trains, of course.

But it’s interesting because their first “bus”, the Safety Coach, had a vehicle body. Not related to train. Some years later, they created the Twin Coach with a train looking style.

Would you provide me some info about bus/train design inspiration?

I forwarded this to Andre Kristopans, who knows much more than I ever could about bus history. Here is his reply:

At least part of the deal was that early intercity coaches often replaced branch line trains or directly competed with them. So, why not make something sort of train-like? As for the 40s, they sort of mimic what a “modern” streetcar looked like in the 1920s. Why not? Imitation can be a big compliment. By the 930s some elements of streetcar design such as rear door in very rear were replaced by designs more practical for a bus like a rear door 3/4 way back. But then new streetcars like PCCs started mimicking buses!

Kenneth Gear writes:

Another Railroad Record Club mystery solved!

Remember a year or so ago we saw RRC records for sale on eBay that were stamped “This is an audition set record and is the property of the Railroad Record Club?” We speculated that Steventon may have sent records to radio stations in an attempt to get them played on air. Well, that was not the case.

Along with the RRC catalog I received with the RRC #10 record I recently purchased was a two page notice of an “audition set program” the club was offering. The notice explains the whole program so I won’t go into detail about it since you can read it right from the notice. Interesting stuff and another RRC question answered!

The catalog was the same one that you posted in the Trolley Dodger.

This audition thing couldn’t have worked out very well. For every new order that it generated, there were likely problems with people not returning the records or paying for them.

I can see how Steventon wanted to bend over backwards to get people to hear these things, but this seems like a lot of extra work, with probably not enough reward.

Thanks very much for your detective work.

Frank Kennedy writes:

Thank you so much for the trolley book, David. Not only is it a great gift, it is a work of such devotional power. There looks to be years of searching for appropriate photographs in all of this. I really don’t know what to say except thank you for the hours future spent in great reading.

This is probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me. I didn’t respond right away, because it left me speechless.

Work on the book, from the initial proposal to the book being published, was actually less than a year. But if I think about it, I spent much of my life preparing to write such a book.

-David Sadowski

PS- Frank Kennedy is the founder of the Chicagotransit Yahoo discussion group.

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.)

Check out our new book Chicago Trolleys. Signed copies are available through our Online Store.

This book makes an excellent gift and costs just $17.99 plus shipping. That’s $4.00 off the list price.

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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A New Year- A New Beginning

2017 in Review

Another year has come and gone.  How quickly time flies.  For this blog, it was another successful year, with 118,985 page views from 34,503 visitors.  These numbers are more than 2015, but less than 2016.

We made fewer posts last during 2017, but they tended to be longer overall.  Some had more than 100 images, and there are over 100 in this post.  To date, we have posted over 30gb of classic images via this blog. It’s no coincidence that when I do Google searches on traction subjects, it seems like half the “hits” that come up are from The Trolley Dodger.

One of our goals has always been to provide a resource where people can find this type of information. I believe we have succeeded, and will continue to build on that success. There are some who think our hobby is on the decline, but I believe we have shown just the opposite.

Our average number of page views per post has continued to increase.  In 2015, it was 995 per post; in 2016, this increased to 1744, and in 2017 we reached 3718 page views per post.

2017 was also notable for the publication of our book Chicago Trolleys, which has been very well received.

While at this stage, it is impossible to know how many posts we will have this year, we are committed to maintaining a high standard of quality on whatever we do present.

Among our other recent posts, we are particularly proud of The Fairmount Park Trolley (November 7, 2017), which included dozens of rare images, most from the original medium format negatives. It took us nearly three years to collect all this material, which probably represents a total cost of about $1000- and this was just one post.

As an example of how we have inspired additional research, I would point to our post The “Other” Penn Central (May 29, 2016), which has gradually gotten longer and longer, thanks to additions from our ever-inquisitive readers.

In addition, as time goes on, we have more and more friends who share their material with our readers.  Today we feature the contributions of noted author Larry Sakar. The pictures are his, unless otherwise noted.

Happy New Year! May you and your family have health, wealth, and happiness in 2018.

-David Sadowski

PS- In about 30 day’s time, our annual bill to fund this site and its web domain comes due.  That comes to $400, or just over $1 per day.  If you enjoy reading this blog, and want to see it continue, we hope you will consider supporting it via a donation.  You can also purchase items from our Online Store. With your help, we cannot fail.

Early Trolley Museum Visits

Larry Sakar writes:

You’ve been posting a lot of photos of CA&E cars of late, which reminded me of a day 47 1/2 years ago when I went to a trolley museum for the very first time. For several years, I would see the ads for IRM in Trains, Railroad (before it became Railfan & Railroad) and Model Railroader and I wanted to go there. Asking my father would have been useless. He wouldn’t have taken me in a million years. Neither of my parents approved of my interest in trolleys.

Luckily I had met Bill Beaudot in 1967, when he was the librarian in charge of the Local History Room at the Central Library downtown. My regular visits to read and reread CERA B-97, “The Electric Railways of Wisconsin” got him wondering what that was all about. All the remaining CERA Bulletins and other traction books had been removed from circulation, and placed under lock and key in the Local History Room.

And so it was that on a warm Saturday afternoon in August of 1970, I went with Bill and his family to my first trolley museum. But it was not IRM, well not initially anyway. The first museum we visited was then called RELIC in South Elgin, IL. RELIC was an acronym for the Railway Equipment Leasing and Investment Corp. Today we know it as the Fox River Trolley Museum.

CA&E wood car 20 was in operation that day, and we rode it from South Elgin to the end of the line at the I.C. bridge over the Fox River at Coleman. When they told the history of the line, I remembered that this was the line from which Speedrail cars 300 and 301 originated.

Of course, they spent 25 years in Cleveland operating on the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, but so what? It was still nice to see where those cars began their service lives. And sitting on a side track was a car I had heard and read about innumerable times: NSL Tavern Lounge 415. Some years later they sold the car to Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.

CA&E car 20 at the RELIC museum, August 1970.

CA&E car 20 at the RELIC museum, August 1970.

The interior of CA&E car 20 in August 1970.

The interior of CA&E car 20 in August 1970.

CA&E 300-series car at the RELIC museum in August 1970.

CA&E 300-series car at the RELIC museum in August 1970.

CA&E 300-series car at the RELIC museum in August 1970.

CA&E 300-series car at the RELIC museum in August 1970.

The Illinois Central interchange at Coleman with the ex-AE&FRE right-of-way, at the RELIC museum in August 1970.

The Illinois Central interchange at Coleman with the ex-AE&FRE right-of-way, at the RELIC museum in August 1970.

North Shore Line tavern-lounge car 415 at the RELIC museum in August 1970.

North Shore Line tavern-lounge car 415 at the RELIC museum in August 1970.

Leaving South Elgin and RELIC we headed for Union, Illinois and IRM. As we crossed the museum line and entered the grounds, I saw Milwaukee streetcar 972 with CSL 144 behind it loading at the station. Instantly, I felt like a kid again, when I would get excited as my grandfather drove my grandmother and me to the Harwood Avenue terminus of the No. 10 Wells Streetcar line in Wauwatosa.

In those days you turned from Wauwatosa Ave. west to Harwood. You found yourself at the top of a very steep hill that dropped down into the Menomonee River Valley, and crossed the Milwaukee Road mainline at grade. And on the west side of those tracks sat the Harwood terminal and the No. 10 Wells streetcar line. A 100-car plus Milwaukee Road freight would cause a monumental traffic jam on both sides of the Harwood hill. In the ’80’s a bypass was built, and traffic no longer has access via the old route. Just as well. Both the streetcar and terminal are long gone.

Anyway, I did get to ride 972 and it felt like 1957-58 all over again. I even made sure to relive my childhood memory of streetcar rides with my grandmother by walking to the opposite end of 972 and sitting in the motorman’s seat. The only difference was I no longer needed someone to boost me up and hold me in the seat!

So here are scans of the prints from the pictures I took that day. I had a great shot of TM 972 speeding down the mainline, but I gave it away about 10 years ago, unfortunately.

While looking through some other pictures, I came across four pictures I took at IRM sometime in the 1980s or ’90s. Two are of my favorite car (after TM 972) Indiana RR 65 and 2 are of AE&FR 306 currently undergoing restoration. Car 65 was flying white flags and was not in regular service. It had been taken out for use in some movie.

I don’t remember much of the detail I heard, but it involved George Krambles in some way. That’s as much as I can recall. 306 was in the car barn parked next to IT 101. I did ride 65 on a member’s weekend once years ago. We reached the end of the line at the Kishwaukee River crossing. They threw whatever electric switches they had to in order to put control over to the back-up controller in the rear of the car, but it refused to budge. Our motorman had to radio for a car to come to our rescue. They sent down C&ME 354.

That was my first and to date only ride on that car. I’ve heard that 65 does not operate very often. While going thru a large group of my slides last Thursday that I had marked as “unidentified,” I found the interior photo I knew I’d taken of CRANDIC 111 at Rio Vista in 2000. I need to look thru the slides I have in my metal slide box #2 of 3. I’m sure I took at least one exterior of CRANDIC 111 that day.

Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric 306 at the Illinois Railway Museum in the 1980s or 90s.

Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric 306 at the Illinois Railway Museum in the 1980s or 90s.

Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric 306 at the Illinois Railway Museum in the 1980s or 90s.

Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric 306 at the Illinois Railway Museum in the 1980s or 90s.

CSL 144 at the IRM depot in August 1970.

CSL 144 at the IRM depot in August 1970.

CSL 144 with TM 972 ahead, August 1970.

CSL 144 with TM 972 ahead, August 1970.

Illinois Terminal 415 at speed on the IRM main line in August 1970.

Illinois Terminal 415 at speed on the IRM main line in August 1970.

The interior of Illinois Terminal 415 at IRM in August 1970.

The interior of Illinois Terminal 415 at IRM in August 1970.

Illinois Terminal 415 at the IRM depot in August 1970.

Illinois Terminal 415 at the IRM depot in August 1970.

Indiana Railroad 65 at IRM in the 1980s or 90s.

Indiana Railroad 65 at IRM in the 1980s or 90s.

Indiana Railroad 65 at IRM in the 1980s or 90s.

Indiana Railroad 65 at IRM in the 1980s or 90s.

A North Shore Line 700-series car at IRM in August 1970.

A North Shore Line 700-series car at IRM in August 1970.

Following the RELIC and IRM pix are a set of pictures taken on a PA Transit PCC in Pittsburgh in the winter of 1971-72. I did not take these pictures. My good friend Bill did, and gave them to me because he knew I liked PCCs.

Because I have never been to Pittsburgh, I am unable to tell the readers where these pictures were taken. PA Transit, for anyone not familiar with it, was the municipal agency that took over the Pittsburgh Railways Co. in 1967. PA stands for Port Authority, not Pennsylvania.

It has always struck me as unusual that streetcar service would be run by the Port Authority, but the Port Authority of Allegheny County was given the task of transit operations, odd though that may seem.

I can still remember the controversy in Railroad Magazine over how the Pittsburgh PCCs were painted in the late ’60s and perhaps early ’70s. Many were painted in three colors, each color being placed on one-third of the car. In keeping with the times one PCC was painted in this wild looking paint scheme and dubbed the “Psychedelic trolley.”

PA Transit 1727 in 1972. (Bill Beaudot Photo)

PA Transit 1727 in 1972. (Bill Beaudot Photo)

PA Transit 1727 in 1972. (Bill Beaudot Photo)

PA Transit 1727 in 1972. (Bill Beaudot Photo)

The interior of PA Transit 1727. (Bill Beaudot Photo)

The interior of PA Transit 1727. (Bill Beaudot Photo)

A PA Transit PCC with the motorman using a switch iron in 1972. (Bill Beaudot Photo)A PA Transit PCC with the motorman using a switch iron in 1972. (Bill Beaudot Photo)

A PA Transit PCC with the motorman using a switch iron in 1972. (Bill Beaudot Photo)

I’ll finish up with a few shots of the Illinois Central Electric (later METRA Electric) Highliners taken mostly as 115th St. Kensington station around 1975. I remember when I.C. first got them, and now they too are history.

-Larry

An ICG Highliner at Randolph Street in 1975.

An ICG Highliner at Randolph Street in 1975.

An ICG Highliner at 115th in Kensington in 1975.

An ICG Highliner at 115th in Kensington in 1975.

Looking north at the Kensington station, as a South Shore Line train approaches in 1975.

Looking north at the Kensington station, as a South Shore Line train approaches in 1975.

Looking north along the northbound track at Kensington station in 1975.

Looking north along the northbound track at Kensington station in 1975.

Looking south from the Kensington ICG station, with the tower to the left.

Looking south from the Kensington ICG station, with the tower to the left.

ICG Highliner interior.

ICG Highliner interior.

An ICG Highliner at 115th Street in Kensington in 1975.

An ICG Highliner at 115th Street in Kensington in 1975.

Sunny California

For all readers of The Trolley Dodger who are shivering in this arctic cold here’s a posting that will let you temporarily escape to a much warmer place; sunny California. During the 50s, 60s and 70s, California (except for San Francisco) shed its electric traction lines as fast as they could.

Much of this was due to a company called National City Lines. In city after city they bought up the rail lines (San Diego Electric Railway, Los Angeles Railway, Pacific Electric, Key System Transit), abandoned all rail service and replaced it with Mack or GM Buses running on Firestone Tires and probably burning diesel fuel supplied by Phillips Petroleum. And they didn’t limit their destructive efforts to just California.

Then came the 1980s, and slowly California began to wake up from its love affair with freeways. And it all started with the San Diego Trolley in 1981. So, it’s only appropriate that we begin our look at traction in the Golden State there.

The San Diego Trolley's original cars were built by Duewag of Dusseldorf, Germany with help from Siemens.

The San Diego Trolley’s original cars were built by Duewag of Dusseldorf, Germany with help from Siemens.

Originally, the San Diego Trolley line to the Mexican border started here.

Originally, the San Diego Trolley line to the Mexican border started here.

Self-service. Passengers entered the car by pressing the black button, seen to the lower right of the door.

Self-service. Passengers entered the car by pressing the black button, seen to the lower right of the door.

Trains bound for the Mexican border had a San Ysidro destination sign.

Trains bound for the Mexican border had a San Ysidro destination sign.

The interior of the beautifully restored ex-Santa Fe (now Amtrak) San Diego station.

The interior of the beautifully restored ex-Santa Fe (now Amtrak) San Diego station.

Look at that beautiful tile work, including the Santa Fe logo on the wall.

Look at that beautiful tile work, including the Santa Fe logo on the wall.

Interior of a Duewag car - spartan, but functional.

Interior of a Duewag car – spartan, but functional.

No controller, no brake handle - computerized push-button control.

No controller, no brake handle – computerized push-button control.

A typical stop on city streets.

A typical stop on city streets.

The maintenance facility on the line to San Ysidro.

The maintenance facility on the line to San Ysidro.

A modern-day Southern California car barn, San Diego style.

A modern-day Southern California car barn, San Diego style.

More of the maintenance facility.

More of the maintenance facility.

City College stop. Fare checkers board here.

City College stop. Fare checkers board here.

Amtrak Redondo engine maintenance facility.

Amtrak Redondo engine maintenance facility.

Arrival at San Diego. looking toward the rear of the train.

Arrival at San Diego. looking toward the rear of the train.

Arrival at San Diego. looking forward toward the front of the train.

Arrival at San Diego. looking forward toward the front of the train.

Curving southeast through an industrial area. Note signal at right.

Curving southeast through an industrial area. Note signal at right.

Curving southeast through an industrial area.

Curving southeast through an industrial area.

Leaving LAUPT, passing Mission Tower.

Leaving LAUPT, passing Mission Tower.

Now you know why the line was renamed the San Diego Surfliner.

Now you know why the line was renamed the San Diego Surfliner.

Oceanside, CA - quite literally.

Oceanside, CA – quite literally.

I can’t think of a city that so completely turned its back on electric rail transit and embraced freeways the way Los Angeles did except for Milwaukee.

In her 1969 Grammy Award winning song, composed by the magnificent team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Dionne Warwick asked the question, “Do you know the way to San Jose?” One of the lines in the song says, “LA is a great big freeway. Put a hundred down and buy a car.”

I can’t speak to “putting a hundred down to buy a car,” other than to say perhaps in 1969, but very unlikely in 2018! But I can attest to the sentiment that LA was and still is “a great big freeway.” There are two Amtrak routes between San Francisco and LA. The Coast Starlight is a long-distance train operating once daily between Seattle and LA. But like any long-distance train, it is often subject to delays. Even on time, arrival in LA is not until 9:00 pm.

The other San Francisco to LA train is a corridor train called the San Joaquin, operating between Jack London Square station in Oakland and Bakersfield. All Amtrak service between San Francisco and other cities arrives and departs from either Jack London Square station in Oakland or Emeryville station. Emeryville is a separate city, 12 miles north of Oakland.

And yes, it is the Emeryville where the Key System had its shops.

Passengers going to San Francisco are bused across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge via Amtrak Thru-Way buses. In the golden age of rail passenger service, trains such as SP’s San Joaquin Daylight, the Lark and the Owl plied the tracks between San Francisco and LA. But when Amtrak took over in 1971 the SP and later UP which now owns the tracks forbade Amtrak trains to continue over the Tehachapi Mountains from Bakersfield to LA.

Therefore, passengers such as me boarded an LA bound Amtrak Thru-Way bus on August 7th at Bakersfield for the two-and-a-half hour ride down I5 and the Hollywood Freeway to LAUPT. This was not my first trip between Bakersfield and LA, so I knew what to expect the closer we got to LA. From the Magic Mountain Amusement park in Valencia to Glendale, where my bus was making a stop, I5 was a sea of cars in both directions.

As bad as that seemed, the Hwy 1012 Hollywood Freeway to downtown LA was even worse. It made rush hours on the Kennedy and Eisenhower look like child’s play! I kept asking myself, “How does anyone put up with this, on a daily basis?” And gas prices in California were at least $1.00 per gallon higher than here in the Midwest. In fact, I think it safe to say everything costs more out there!

So, what brought about this miraculous turnaround from asphalt and concrete to rail? I could tell you, but as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. I took this photo from the Griffith Park Observatory which is perched some 1300+ feet above LA in the summer of 1980 just before the rail renaissance began. Note that orange cloud on the far horizon. That is smog and it coats LA like a blanket daily. It is unhealthy to say the least and extremely bad for people with asthma and other respiratory problems. I can only guess that one day, someone woke up and pondered, “How did we get ourselves into this mess?” That’s easily answered. You allowed National City Lines and Metropolitan Coach Lines to take over and destroy Los Angeles Railways and Pacific Electric the system that literally helped build southern California.

The last PE line from LA to Long Beach was abandoned by the LAMTA– an agency formed to save remaining rail transit in LA but which, because it was controlled by some of the same people who ran Metropolitan Coach Lines, did the exact opposite. That was in April1961, but luckily the right of way between LA and Long Beach was saved, as parts of it were used by Southern Pacific (of which PE was a part) for freight service.

So, it was only fitting that after an absence of almost 30 years, electric transit service between LA and Long Beach was reborn in the form of the new LA Metro Blue Line on July 14, 1990. And just two-and-a-half years after that, the new LA Metro Red Line subway between downtown and North Hollywood opened for service.

Ironically, the new subway was built just one block (in places) from the old PE Belmont Subway. (Note: Though often referred to as the Hollywood subway because PE trains headed there and to other locations in and near the San Fernando Valley such as Universal City and North Hollywood as well as Glendale and Burbank) operated thru it. But its official name was the Belmont subway, no relation to Belmont Avenue in Chicago.

LA from the Griffith Park Observatory in 1980.

LA from the Griffith Park Observatory in 1980.

The LA Red Line subway at the 7th Street/Union Station stop in 2001. The LA Red Line subway is used by passengers to reach the Blue Line to Long Beach. Long Beach trains end in their own subway a few blocks from the Staples Center (LA's version of the United Center). I believe these are Japanese Kawasaki-built cars.

The LA Red Line subway at the 7th Street/Union Station stop in 2001. The LA Red Line subway is used by passengers to reach the Blue Line to Long Beach. Long Beach trains end in their own subway a few blocks from the Staples Center (LA’s version of the United Center). I believe these are Japanese Kawasaki-built cars.

Long before BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) began service between Oakland and Fremont in 1972, there was the Key System. Started in 1903 by a man called “Borax” Smith, who became a millionaire mining Borax. If you’re around my age perhaps you remember the 19670’s TV show “Death Valley Days” hosted by actor Dale Robertson which was sponsored by 20 Nuke Team Borax.

The line got its name because, when viewed on a map, the 5 East Bay lines were designated by letters:
A: Downtown Oakland later extended to East Oakland on the tracks of the Interurban Electric Ry. an SP subsidiary which was abandoned in 1941
B: Lakeshore and Trestle Glen
C: Piedmont
D: Never used. Reserved for a line to Montclair alongside the Sacramento Northern Interurban which was never built
E:Claremont
F: Berkeley

They resembled the top part of a skeleton key, the straight bottom portion represented by the Key Pier, which jutted out into the Bay 1.3 miles from the Oakland shore. San Francisco-bound passengers transferred to Key System Ferry boats at the Key pier for the trip to the San Francisco Ferry Building at the foot of Market St.

In January 1939 Key System trains began using the newly constructed San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Tracks were laid on the lower deck of the bridge which was reserved for trucks and buses. A newly constructed terminal at 1st & Mission Streets in San Francisco (initially called the “East Bay Terminal” and then the “Trans Bay Transit Terminal”) served as the station for Key System trains, as well as Sacramento Northern and Interurban Electric. The latter two systems both abandoned service in 1941. Key took over some on the former IER trackage in and around Berkeley.

In 1938 newly-built articulated trains replaced the original wood center-entrance cars. As the saying goes, looks can be deceiving, and such was the case with the new articulated trains. They were, in fact, a new body placed atop salvaged components from the original wood cars, which consisted of everything from trucks to controllers. Worse yet, the new bodies had a major design flaw. They lacked proper ventilation. They were not air conditioned and did not have openable windows. Cars ran on third rail between the Trans Bay Terminal and the Key Bridge Yards in Oakland which abutted the Oakland toll plaza.

The Bay Bridge, like the Golden Gate Bridge and every Transbay bridge in San Francisco, is a toll bridge operated by the California Toll Bridge Authority. Each of the companies running trains across the Bay Bridge were required to deed a certain number of cars to Toll Bridge Authority ownership. This would prove fortuitous as the cars now preserved at the Western Railway Museum in Suisun City, CA and the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Riverside, CA were ones deeded to the Toll Bridge Authority.

Key System 187 at the Western Railway Museum in 2000.

Key System 187 at the Western Railway Museum in 2000.

A Key System Transit train in the Trans Bay Terminal in 1953.

A Key System Transit train in the Trans Bay Terminal in 1953.

Key System 182 at the Western Railway Museum in 2000.

Key System 182 at the Western Railway Museum in 2000.

Key System 182 at the Western Railway Museum in 2000.

Key System 182 at the Western Railway Museum in 2000.

The Trans Bay Transit Terminal at 1st and Mission in San Francisco, razed in 2011.

The Trans Bay Transit Terminal at 1st and Mission in San Francisco, razed in 2011.

In 1946, the Lundeberg management sold its interest in the Key System to National City lines. As was almost always the case with any rail lines acquired by NCL, the streetcar lines in and around Oakland, operated by Key subsidiary East Bay Transit Company, were converted to bus operation in 1948. Key trains operated until April 1958 when the last trains crossed the Bay Bridge for the final time. The State of California spent huge sums of money to remove the overhead wires and rails from the Bay Bridge and Trans Bay Terminal to accommodate Key System Transit’s new Mack and GM Buses.

In 1960 Key System was acquired by A.C. Transit which still operates buses across the Bay Bridge to East Bay points to this day. A.C. stands for the two counties who operate the bus line, Alameda and Contra Costa.

The Transbay Transit Terminal was razed in 2011 and is being replaced by a new facility a few blocks away on Folsom Street. Unfortunately, the new terminal, which had been due to be completed in 2017, has been stopped from completion by a lawsuit filed by the nearby Millennium Towers Condos Building. The 58-story building with luxury condos, selling for upwards of $3 million and home to celebrities such as Joe Montana, is sinking into its foundation at an alarming rate and is also tilting as a result.

Its developers blame the contractor building the new Trans Bay Terminal claiming he drained out too much of the ground water causing the Millennium building foundation to shift in the sands which anchor it. The contractor for the new Trans Bay Terminal has counter-sued claiming that the Millennium Tower’s builder should have anchored the building’s foundation in the bed rock 200 feet below. Until the issue is resolved, a temporary Transit Terminal is open at 200 Folsom Street.

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority operates buses and one light rail line from Santa Teresa to Alum Rock in the San Mateo-San Jose area. It will connect with BART when the line is extended into San Mateo County. At least three major Silicon Valley companies will be served: Cisco Systems, eBay and Adobe.

The light rail line operates between Santa Teresa and Alum Rock. The car seen here, and its mates, were sold to the Sacramento RTD when VTA purchased new low-floor cars.

An VTA Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority LRV at Santa Teresa station in 2000.

An VTA Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority LRV at Santa Teresa station in 2000.

Sacramento RTD at Roseville Yards in 2004.

Sacramento RTD at Roseville Yards in 2004.

Sacramento RTD at Roseville Yards in 2004.

Sacramento RTD at Roseville Yards in 2004.

Sacramento RTD at Roseville Yards in 2004.

Sacramento RTD at Roseville Yards in 2004.

Sacramento RTD at Roseville Yards in 2004.

Sacramento RTD at Roseville Yards in 2004.

Sacramento RTD service started between Watt I-80 and the Historic Folsom District on 3-12-87.Within the past year a branch to Consumes River College was opened. The maintenance facility for the Sacramento RTD is located in adjacent Roseville, north of Sacramento, a city located at the southern base of the Sierras. The four photos seen here were taken from Amtrak Train #5, the California Zephyr, on the way to Emeryville in 2004.

A year before the Key System abandoned rail service in April 1958, planning for some sort of new Transbay rail line was being contemplated. That became the Bay Area Rapid Transit district. This was a county-based, special-purpose district formed to construct and operate a rail transit system in the five counties that initially formed the district: The city and county of San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and San Mateo.

Though invited to participate, Santa Clara county declined to join until 2018 when BART will enter San Mateo County, with the extension to Milpitas and Berryessa. In 1962 San Mateo County supervisors voted to leave BART, claiming their voters would be paying taxes for riders primarily from Santa Clara County. San Mateo eventually formed its own transit agency called SAMTRANS. The departure of San Mateo County lead to the departure of Marin County as well.

Construction of BART began in 1964, but it would not be until 1972 that the first trains operating between Fremont and Oakland would begin service. Initially, there was a debate about how BART trains would cross the Bay. Would it be an above ground crossing or a subway tube? The decision was made to dig a trench in the floor of San Francisco Bay and construct a subway tube between San Francisco and Oakland. All other parts of the system would be elevated (parts of Oakland immediately after trains leave the Transbay tube), subway (through Berkeley) or private right-of-way, often in the median of existing expressways.

Author Harre Demoro frequently insisted, in his books, that BART was neither the modern day Key System or Sacramento Northern. I disagree. In my opinion it is both. It serves many of the same cities served by Key or SN, and even utilizes parts of the old SN right of way in Concord, Rockridge, and West Pittsburg.

When I visited the Western Railway Museum for the first time in 1996, I rode an interurban saved from a system I’d never heard of, called the Peninsular Railway. A Google search revealed that the line had run in the San Mateo/San Jose area now known as “Silicon Valley”. One of the stations served by the Peninsular Railway was Berryessa. In 2018 the new BART extension into San Mateo County will provide service to two new stations; Milpitas and Berryessa. The Peninsular Railway abandoned service in 1934. It has taken 84 years, but electric rail transit is back in Berryessa. Let’s go for a ride on BART.

-Larry

Along the right of way to Milbrae and the SFO International Airport.

Along the right of way to Milbrae and the SFO International Airport.

Another view of the BART Oakland yards.

Another view of the BART Oakland yards.

Approaching the station loading area.

Approaching the station loading area.

A BART C train, built by Alstom circa 1995.

A BART C train, built by Alstom circa 1995.

The BART SFO International Airport station in 2004.

The BART SFO International Airport station in 2004.

A BART train arriving at the SFO International Airport in 2004.

A BART train arriving at the SFO International Airport in 2004.

C car interior. Note the blue colors, versus brown for the Rohr-built cars.

C car interior. Note the blue colors, versus brown for the Rohr-built cars.

The BART Concord station, on the former Sacramento Northern right-of-way.

The BART Concord station, on the former Sacramento Northern right-of-way.

Concord station, close-up of BART train.

Concord station, close-up of BART train.

A BART C train at Civic Center station.

A BART C train at Civic Center station.

The interior of a Rohr-built BART car.

The interior of a Rohr-built BART car.

The interior of a Rohr-built BART car.

The interior of a Rohr-built BART car.

Oakland Yards near the MacArthur station.

Oakland Yards near the MacArthur station.

The operator of a BART car signs in.

The operator of a BART car signs in.

The operator's cab in a BART car, all computer controlled, like San Diego.

The operator’s cab in a BART car, all computer controlled, like San Diego.

An original Rohr-built BART train at Balboa Park station.

An original Rohr-built BART train at Balboa Park station.

The people mover at the SFO International Airport.

The people mover at the SFO International Airport.

Pittsburg Bay Point station, the farthest east point on BART.

Pittsburg Bay Point station, the farthest east point on BART.

The BART Pittsburg Bay Point station passageway to the park and ride lot.

The BART Pittsburg Bay Point station passageway to the park and ride lot.

Reflections of a railfan taking a picture of the people mover at the SFO International Airport.

Reflections of a railfan taking a picture of the people mover at the SFO International Airport.

A view of the opposite end of the BART Pittsburg Bay Point station passageway.

A view of the opposite end of the BART Pittsburg Bay Point station passageway.

The rear of the same train at the Balboa Park station.

The rear of the same train at the Balboa Park station.

Chris Barney writes:

HISTORIC BRIDGE DEMOLISHED

The last identifiable bridge from TM interurban operations in Milwaukee County fell to the wrecking ball November 9, 2017. The 1905 Milwaukee Light, Heat & Traction (MLH&T) spandrel-arch bridge over the Root River, near 98th & Layton, met its end after efforts to attain historic status and raising funds to preserve it failed. Robert Roesler, Greenfield Historical Society president, made a concerted effort in this regard and should be commended for it. A We Energies representative even arranged to donate the bridge structure to anyone willing to preserve it, but no one came forward.

The bridge last handled interurban traffic on June 30, 1951, when Speedrail Car 63 made its last inbound run from Hales Corners. Since then, it has weathered 66 years and had deteriorated to the point of being a danger to bicyclists and walkers traversing its span.

I spoke to a dog walker on December 12th who told me he has lived in the area his entire life and remembers when the Brookdale Bridge, which crossed Root River Parkway, was still standing. He lamented the demolition of the Root River span. “It reminded me of a simpler time when things were different – and better.”

February 9, 2017. (Chris Barney Photo)

February 9, 2017. (Chris Barney Photo)

December 12, 2017. (Chris Barney Photo)

December 12, 2017. (Chris Barney Photo)

Recent Finds

Here are a couple of our recent acquisitions, two classic views from the Philadelphia & Western, today’s SEPTA “Red Arrow” Norristown High-Speed Line:

Philadelphia & Western "Strafford" car 170, coming into a station circa 1938. Kenneth Achtert adds, "The photo of Philadelphia & Western 170 is arriving at Villanova station, outbound. This is the last station before the split where the Norristown line diverged from the Strafford line. The small platform between the two tracks was used to allow passengers from an inbound Norristown car to transfer directly to an outbound Strafford car without having to go up and over the overpass shown. This would also work from an inbound Strafford car to an outbound Norristown car. I don’t know how many passengers actually made such a trip, but I do remember seeing such transfers made." The last train ran on the Strafford Branch on March 23, 1956.

Philadelphia & Western “Strafford” car 170, coming into a station circa 1938. Kenneth Achtert adds, “The photo of Philadelphia & Western 170 is arriving at Villanova station, outbound. This is the last station before the split where the Norristown line diverged from the Strafford line. The small platform between the two tracks was used to allow passengers from an inbound Norristown car to transfer directly to an outbound Strafford car without having to go up and over the overpass shown. This would also work from an inbound Strafford car to an outbound Norristown car. I don’t know how many passengers actually made such a trip, but I do remember seeing such transfers made.” The last train ran on the Strafford Branch on March 23, 1956.

Philadelphia & Western "Bullet" car 200 at Conshohocken Road on October 12, 1938, "showing line country and streamlined car stopping at station."

Philadelphia & Western “Bullet” car 200 at Conshohocken Road on October 12, 1938, “showing line country and streamlined car stopping at station.”

W. C. Fields Filming Locations

John Bengston has a great blog, where he writes in great detail about the filming locations used in classic silent films by comedians like Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and Buster Keaton.

We recently suggested he might look into the locations used in the chase sequence during the 1941 W. C. Fields film Never Give a Sucker an Even Break. He took the ball and ran with it, and his findings will feature in two posts.

You can read the first installment here.

Here are a few screenshots of our own from that film, which show the Pacific Electric:

During the chase sequence of the picture, Fields' car passes by a new Pacific Electric double-end PCC car. Filming took place in July and August 1941. PE put the first of 30 such PCCs in service the previous November.

During the chase sequence of the picture, Fields’ car passes by a new Pacific Electric double-end PCC car. Filming took place in July and August 1941. PE put the first of 30 such PCCs in service the previous November.

The brand-new Hollywood Freeway shows up in the movie. This is the portion (Cahuenga Pass) where the Pacific Electric ran in the expressway median from 1940 to 1952.

The brand-new Hollywood Freeway shows up in the movie. This is the portion (Cahuenga Pass) where the Pacific Electric ran in the expressway median from 1940 to 1952.

Another section of the Pacific Electric visible in the film.

Another section of the Pacific Electric visible in the film.

We end this post on a hopeful note for 2018. Work on the Milwaukee streetcar project, now called “The Hop,” is ahead of schedule,and the first phase of the line is scheduled to open by year’s end:

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.)

Check out our new book Chicago Trolleys. Signed copies are available through our Online Store.

HOLIDAY SPECIAL! This book makes an excellent gift. For a limited time only, we have reduced the price to just $17.99 plus shipping. That’s $4.00 off the regular price.

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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