All in all, I would have to say this is an amazing photograph. It shows Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 22 on June 30, 1943, in the middle of World War II, and just two years before streetcars were abandoned in this coastal town (Wildwood) in New Jersey. From what I have read, the war and the resulting nightly blackouts negatively affected tourism and contributed to the demise of the streetcars here. With such an early abandonment, color photos of this operation are very rare, indeed, and the colors on this Red Border Kodachrome have held up quite well. A sign on the car advertises Marty Bohn and His Floor Show at the “Nut Club.” The blackouts were not without reason, as German submarines were just offshore, and sometimes crew members would sneak ashore.
I am both humbled and grateful beyond measure that my late friend Jeffrey Wien made me the beneficiary of his extensive photographic collection (except for his motion picture films, which he donated to the Chicago Film Archives).
Naturally, I would rather that he still be around to enjoy his collection, comment on my posts, and point out where I got something wrong, or help identify some locations. But unfortunately, we don’t get to choose in these matters.
I think the best way I can honor his memory is to keep up the work of historic preservation and education that meant so much to him.
While this post may not have an overall theme, it is full of legends and legacies. It is thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of many people, Jeff included, that anything at all has been saved from the electric railways of the past. Some of the photos here were taken after the North Shore Line quit, and show various railcars sitting around, waiting to be saved or scrapped. There are also pictures of the fledgling and somewhat ramshackle early days of the Illinois Electric Railway Museum, at its original and temporary home in North Chicago.
You if had told one of the founders of what is now IRM back then all the progress that has been made since at Union, they hardly could have believed it possible. Institutions like IRM are saving this history and preserving it for future generations, while also making it possible to have some of the same experiences riding the equipment in the collection, that people enjoyed in the past.
If we can maintain the same spirit, all this important history will be our legacy to those who come after us. I am intent on doing my part.
PS- We thank Jack Bejna, Andre Kristopans, William Shapotkin, and Colin Wisner for contributing to this post.
We also have a Facebook auxiliary for The Trolley Dodger where you can participate further. It is a private group, so unfortunately you won’t be able to see the content unless you join. It is free. As of this writing, we have 183 members.
From Jeff Wien’s Collection
The North Shore Line ticket cabinet from the Dempster Street station in Skokie. It still has the tickets in it.
I will have to straighten this out, as the tickets were jostled when the cabinet was moved. The balls were apparently placed behind the tickets.
This metal route sign hung on the side of a wooden Metropolitan “L” car, and was of a type in use for a half-century prior to the opening of the Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway in 1951. Remarkably, it has survived for 70 years since it last could have been used in service. The sign was reversible, and the other side says Humboldt Park.
A fare counter from a Chicago streetcar. There was a Chicago streetcar 3351, a Peter Witt that was scrapped around 1952, but I am not certain that these didn’t have their own numbers.
This metal sign appears to show the original version of the CTA’s “Metropolitan Transit” logo, first introduced in 1958. By then, the agency wanted the public to know that it served more than just Chicago.
The North Shore Line eventually joined the Insull Empire that, by the mid-1920s, included all three major Chicago interurbans and the “L”. So it should not be too much of a surprise that the North Shore had its own rider publication for a few years, with leaflet holders presumably made by the same firm as the “L”s. The North Shore Line version is said to be rare, as many were melted down for scrap during WWII.
Leaflet holders from 4000-series “L” cars. The Elevated News was published by the Chicago Elevated Railways Collateral Trust, formed in 1913 as a voluntary association by the four independent (or at least they started that way) “L” firms. The 4000-series, which eventually ran to 455 cars, was the first designed for use on all the various “L” lines. The title of their rider publication was changed to Rapid Transit News in 1924, coincident with the formation of the Chicago Rapid Transit Company. The Chicago Transit Authority had its own publication, the Rider’s Reader, for a few years starting in 1948.
This leaflet holder is marked as having come from CTA PCC 7213, the last Chicago streetcar that ran on June 21, 1958.
Although Chicago had a total of 600 postwar PCC streetcars, this was too much for a single manufacturer to produce in the immediate postwar era, so the order was divided between Pullman (310) and St. Louis Car Company (290). The “Read As You Ride” leaflet holder at left came from a St. Louis PCC (7213), while the one at right may have come from a Pullman. Their interiors were painted different colors.
Jeff’s collection included a leaflet holder from another city. Several cities had “Public Service” in their streetcar operator’s names, so offhand, I am not sure which city this came from. (Frank J. Flörianz Jr. says it is from New Jersey.)
I found this clipping that Jeff cut out of the Chicago Tribune in 1978 inside the “Read As You Ride” leaflet holder from PCC 7213, the last Chicago streetcar.
There were a few cities besides New York, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia to have some sort of elevated electric railways, and Kansas City was among them. Here, Kansas City Public Service car 785 is descending from the 8th Street “L” at Baltimore Avenue on September 3, 1952. I was fortunate to win this original Red Border Kodachrome slide, because I had lost an auction for it once before when someone sold it. Kansas City abandoned streetcars in 1957, but has since reopened a modern streetcar line. (Edward S. Miller Photo)
A single CRT wooden “L” car is at the Dempster Street terminal in Skokie, probably in the 1940s. This “L” branch was replaced by buses in 1948, but returned in 1964 in the form of the Skokie Swift (today’s Yellow Line), a year after the North Shore Line (who owned these tracks) ended all service.
This is one of the experimental “Bluebird” articulated compartment car trains (probably the prototype) being tested on the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit system circa 1939. BMT ordered 50 of these units from the Clark Equipment Company, intended to be “fast locals” to mix with slower express trains on El lines. But when the City of New York purchased BMT in 1940, they cancelled the order, except for five units that had already been built. They lived out the rest of their days as oddball equipment before being scrapped in 1956. But the Bluebirds were the first rapid transit cars to use PCC technology, and were a major influence on the four articulated 5000s that CRT ordered at the end of World War II.
The former Chicago Aurora & Elgin station in Villa Park still exists and is a local landmark. But here we see it under construction in 1929. The Ovaltine plant at left has since been converted to residential.
I spent some time cleaning up this image, which was part of a stereo pair meant to be viewed in 3-D using a handheld device called a “stereopticon.” It shows Chicago’s Loop “L” circa 1905, and this is the original left-hand running, bi-directional configuration, before it was changed in 1913. So the train at right is moving towards us, while the train at left is moving away from us. The view looks west along Van Buren Street, and that is the old Tower 12 at left. A Metropolitan “L” train is on the inner Loop, while a Lake Street train trails a Northwestern “L” train on the outer Loop. At this stage, only the Lake trains would have needed trolley poles. The station at Van Buren and State is visible in the distance.
A Stereopticon viewer.
Chicago Surface Lines car 2802 is on a charter trip on June 12, 1940. This was apparently a fan favorite, as we have previously published a photo of the same car on a 1941 fantrip.
North Shore Line car 709 at the Branford Trolley Museum in Connecticut in October 30, 1966, just three and a half years after the interurban quit. The location given is Farm River Road. Don’s Rail Photos: “709 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1924, #2725. It was sold to Branford Trolley Museum in 1963.”
This is another remarkable photograph, showing Monongahela West Penn car 320 at night in June 1946. Such night shots were very difficult to achieve back then, due to the slow film speed of the time (this is Kodachrome 10, as in ASA/ISO 10). About the only way to take such a picture would have been with a very long exposure, with the camera resting on a tripod. (Dr. H. Blackbunn Photo)
South Shore Line cars 105 and 1 in April 1963.
Another great night shot, this time it’s Illinois Terminal 473 on the line that ran from St. Louis to Granite City in the 1950s. This was IT’s final passenger line and was abandoned in June 1958, on the same weekend that the last Chicago streetcar ran.
CTA PCC 4406, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, at Clark and Archer in April 1954. (William Shapotkin Collection)
This is DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park, the end of the CTA Congress rapid transit line. The license plates would indicate a date of 1961, perhaps in the Fall since that is a 1962 Chevy in the parking lot. The various signs on the Leyden Motor Coach bus might confuse you, but on the side, it is marked “OSA” meaning this is a fantrip. (William Shapotkin Collection) Bill Shapotkin writes: “Unable to read the bus number, bus OSA operated trips on 06/17/61 (trip #2) using Leyden bus #95 and on 03/18/62 (trip #10) using Leyden buses #90, 157 and 164. If you can identify the fleet number, that would cement down the details.” This is bus #90, so that makes the date March 18, 1962.
CTA 6053 is at the rear of a northbound Ravenswood All-Stop train approaching Armitage in August 1986. The two center tracks lead down to the State Street Subway. (William Shapotkin Collection)
A southbound CTA Englewood train (lead car: 2033) has met a northbound Howard train at Armitage station in April 1985, and is descending into the State Street Subway. (William Shapotkin Collection)
North Shore Line former merchandise dispatch car 215 at the Harrison Shops in Milwaukee on July 7, 1953. Don’s Rail Photos: “215 was built by Cincinnati Car in October 1922, #2605. The loading doors (were moved) from the ends to the center. It was demotorized and used as a tool car.”
On May 22, 1944, Illinois Governor Dwight H. Green (1897-1958) poses with officials from the Illinois State Militia, next to a 1700-series Chicago Surface Lines car promoting that branch of the military during World War II. Green served two terms as governor from 1941-49 before his defeat by Democrat Adlai Stevenson.
While I don’t have the negative that goes with this Chicago Sun photo file slip, it does at least identify some of the notables in the negative I do have. The Chicago Sun was a morning newspaper, started in 1941 by the Field family. It bought the Chicago Times in 1948 and the paper has been the Chicago Sun-Times ever since (although no longer owned by Field Enterprises).
North Shore Line cars 192 and 187 at Highwood in September 1963, looking much worse the wear, nine months after abandonment. But in actuality, these cars had been retired some years earlier. Don’s Rail Photos: “187 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1920, (order) #2450. It was retired on December 31, 1955. It was scrapped at Rondout on January 29, 1964. 192 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1920, #2450. It was retired on December 31, 1955. It was scrapped at Rondout on January 29, 1964.” Apparently these cars were considered surplus after the abandonment of the Shore Line Route in 1955.
This photo is a bit of a mystery. It is dated September 1963, which means these are probably North Shore Line cars in dead storage at Highwood, awaiting disposition. However, that doesn’t explain the Shore Line Route sign, as that portion of the Interurban had been abandoned in 1955. And after the 1963 abandonment, a lot of these signs were scarfed up by fans and were missing from the trains that were scrapped. Don’s Rail Photos: “(Combine) 256 was built by Jewett in 1917. It seems to be the only one which retained its original configuration.” It did not survive. The fate of the Silverliner at right is not known.
On June 16, 1962, the late Maury Klebolt talks to the North Shore Line train crew during a fantrip at Harrison Street in Milwaukee. This must have been an Illini Railroad Club excursion. There were many such trips during the last year of the interurban’s existence. (Richard H. Young Photo)
A close-up of Maury Klebolt (1930-1988). Not sure who is at left.
CTA Pullman PCC 4077 heads southbound at 2600 N. Clark Street in the early 1950s. It may be running on either Route 22 or 36. The Pullmans had almost entirely disappeared from service by the end of 1954, for the so-called “PCC Conversion Program.”
The same location today.
The Illinois Electric Railway Museum in North Chicago in September 1963, shortly before the collection was moved to its permanent location in Union. From left to right, we see Milwaukee streetcar 966, a Milwaukee Electric interurban car (either 1129 or 1135), and Indiana Railroad car 65.
This September 1963 (or at least, that’s when the film was processed) view of the Illinois Electric Railway Museum is not the sharpest, but it does show, from left to right, CTA snow sweeper E223, Illinois Terminal 101, one of the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurbans, and a Milwaukee Electric car.
North Shore Line Silverliner 409 at Roosevelt Road on august 4, 1956. Don’s Rail Photos: “409 was built by Cincinnati Car in May 1923, #2465, as a dining car motor. In 1942 it was rebuilt as a coach and rebuilt as a Silverliner on March 30, 1955. Since it had no bulkhead between smoking and non-smoking sections, it was our favorite car to be used for meetings of the Milwaukee Division of the Electric Railroaders Association in Milwaukee. The North Shore was very cooperative in making sure that the car was in the location shown on meeting nights.” The 409 is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (C. G. Parsons Photo)
This amazing real photo postcard sold on eBay for $77.89. I unfortunately was not aware of the auction. It shows the Ridgeland “L” station on South Boulevard in Oak Park. The postcard was mailed in 1909 and hence can’t be any later than that. Work is already underway to elevate the Chicago & North Western tracks at left. The Lake Street “L” itself would join it on the embankment in 1962.
NYCTA Brooklyn PCC 1049 is running on the 72 Smith Line to the Brooklyn Bridge in this undated photo, taken between 1946 and 1956. According to the information on the half frame slide mount, this is on 10th Avenue at 17th Street, at the 9th Avenue Depot. Half frame had a brief vogue in the early 1950s, as a way to double the number of pictures on a 35mm roll, while still maintaining some level of quality. But most photographers back then didn’t need twice as many pictures on a roll. In the long run, it Kodak downsized their film over time, from sizes 126 to 110 and Disc, in order to make bigger profits. But sharpness was reduced in turn, and full-frame 25mm is still with us today. These 1950s Brooklyn PCCs appear to have had about as many dents as their Chicago cousins. (R. Fillman Photo)
The Magic of Clark Frazier
Clark Frazier is an excellent photographer who has been active since around 1956. Among the first 35mm slides that I took home from Jeff’s collection were over 100 that he had purchased from Mr. Frazier over the last few years. Even better, Mr. Frazier did a lot of traveling, so his work covers many different cities. In his retired years, Jeff loved purchasing excellent slides that not only reflected his own type of shooting, but filled in gaps in his collection– views that he was unable to capture himself, or places he couldn’t get to before something ceased operating. For example, in this representative sampling, I am not certain that Jeff was able to visit Washington D.C. prior to the abandonment of streetcars there in 1962, and I don’t think he could get to San Francisco in time to ride the “Iron Monsters” before they were all taken out of service around 1957. So here they are.
DC Transit 1572 on Route 70 at Georgia and Alaska on February 7, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1566 inbound on Route 82 at Riverdale on September 1, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 77 turn back meets 130 on Geary Boulevard in 1956. Hope that dog made it across the street safely. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1322 at the Department of the Interior on Route 82, on September 2, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1567 on Route 82 on Rhode Island Avenue, September 1, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3311 and 3305 are stuck in the snow at Riverside after a “Noreaster” on March 4, 1960. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 139 turns left from Geary onto 33rd Avenue in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
St. Louis Public Service PCC 1628 arrives at South Broadway carhouse on August 23, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1555 from Cabin John in Brookmont on June 7, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 195 on the C Line at Geary and Van Ness in January 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 205 and 1014 at the end of the N Line in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 176 outbound on the N Line to the beach in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1469 is on Rhode Island Avenue (Route 82) in Maryland, August 11, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 199 at 46th and Vicente on the L line on September 9, 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
El Paso 1500 backs up at the Cotton Street Carbarn on June 12, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1321 at the Soldier’s Home end of Route 74 on February 7, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 156 is an inbound J Line car at Market and Duboce in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 178 is heading to the beach on Carl Street (N Line) in 1957. Don’s Rail Photos: “178, K Type, was built by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Co in 1923.” From wrm.org: “The Bay Area Electric Railway Association purchased the 178 from the Muni in February of 1959, and moved it to Marysville, California, for storage on a Sacramento Northern spur for occasional operation on the electrified trackage in the Marysville-Yuba City area. It was moved to Rio Vista Junction in August, 1964 to join the rest of the BAERA collection. 178 returned to San Francisco in 1982 to be part of the Trolley Festival on Market Street while the City rebuilt it’s cable cars lines. In 1983 the 178 returned to the Western Railway Museum and still operates today.” (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 105 on the B (Geary) Line at Leavenworth Street in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit (ex-Capital Traction) 303 at the Mt. Rainier Loop on September 1, 1958. Don’s Rail Photos: “303 was built by American Car Co in 1898 as Capital Traction Co 303. It is now at the Smithsonian (National Museum of American History).” The 303 was retired from regular service in 1913 but was kept for charter use until the end of DC streetcar service in 1962. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 206 is on the C Line at 2nd Avenue and Cornwall in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 188 is running on the K Line on Market Street between 5th and 6th in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1399 on Route 90, at Pennsylvania Avenue SE, on June 7, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1288 at Friendship Heights, running on Route 30, on June 7, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Chicago Rapid Transit Route Descriptions
“L” operations were rather complex prior to the October 1, 1947 takeover by the Chicago Transit Authority, so much so that Chicago Rapid Transit Company maps typically made no attempt to explain them. There were pocket guides published over the years by third parties that included explanations, but often these were considerably out of date by the time of publication.
Here, courtesy of Andre Kristopans, are the various CRT route descriptions that describe the service in place at the time when CTA assumed control. The dates vary from 1940 to 1946 because service hadn’t been altered on those lines by October 1, 1947.
“L” service “grew like Topsy” in the early years, as the saying goes, reflecting its origins as four separate companies, operating independently. There were expresses and locals, and by 1913, some trains through-routed from the north and south sides, some trains ending or originating at the four downtown stub-end terminals, and the several branch lines. Trains were split at some locations, with one part going one way, the other part a different way.
Powering the Metropolitan West Side Elevated
We recently acquired the August, 1895 edition of Power magazine, which featured a three-page article describing the then-new Metropolitan West Side Elevated‘s Loomis Street power plant. The Met was the first of Chicago’s four “L”s to operate exclusively with electricity. The South Side and Lake Street “L”s began life with steam locomotives. The Met was greatly influenced by the success of the experimental Columbian Intramural Railway at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.
In 1895, there was no such thing as commercially available electricity on this kind of scale. You had to make your own.
I spent the morning talking to a friend over zoom and doodling this, Indiana Railroad Car 65. I showed the drawing to him and he was kind of impressed.
Thanks! In case you don’t know him, Colin is a very talented young man who enjoys searching the former Chicago, Aurora & Elgin right-of-way in search of artifacts that have until now been overlooked. He has found, among many other things, a small section of third rail.
Jack Bejna writes:
I enjoyed the latest post as I always do. I really like the shot of the Highwood Shops and since I have some time this morning I decided to help out the image by getting rid of the bad portion. Hope you like it!
ps: I never took the time to get over to the shops and get some pictures, so I rely on you for keeping the memories of the North Shore alive! Thanks for your great work.
Thanks! Our regular readers are probably familiar with Jack’s great work, which has graced these pages many times in the past, and will hopefully do so in the future.
From our resident South Side expert M.E.:
First, Happy New Year, a bit late because your last few postings were so heavily weighted toward the north side, I had nothing to comment on. But I have a few things today.
This is the schedule sheet for south side service. At the bottom of the page is “Stock Yard Services”. Notice the heading “Jackson Pk.” and its associated train times. According to the route description, two morning trains ran from Jackson Park to Indiana Av., then onto the Stock Yards tracks. And two evening trains ran from the Stock Yards to Indiana Ave., then to Jackson Park. This is the first time I have heard of any trains doing that.
I had always thought the switches west of Indiana made it difficult to get between the main line and the Stock Yards line. But this schedule sheet piqued my curiosity, so I dug out my CERA Bulletin 115, which has great trackage maps toward the back. Plate 8, Detail 15, page 235, illustrating the trackage at Indiana Ave. in 1914, shows there were usable switches between the Stock Yards and main lines. Those switches could have still existed in April 1946 — the date of this schedule — because Plate 8 also shows the switch arrangement starting in 1949 (the one I remember), which would not have worked well to switch between the two lines.
The date April 1946 is after World War II, so even if this route was put in place during the war, it continued after the war. Interesting.
This sheet verifies that Englewood trains ran to Ravenswood. That is the route I first rode on the Rapid Transit Lines.
For Further Reading
Several issues of The Elevated News and Rapid Transit News from the 1920s can be read here via Google Books. You can even download the entire book.
These publications include important historical information that might not be available otherwise. To cite a couple of examples, here are excerpts from the May 1, 1926 issue of Rapid Transit News.
First, we had a recent discussion here (see Our Sixth Anniversary, January 21, 2021) that mentioned an underground passageway that connected Union Station to the Canal Street “L” station on the Met main line. Well, this is not only mentioned in Rapid Transit News, but there is both a map and a photo. We also learn that it was used by 8,000 people per day.
Second, there is a progress report on the new “L” service to Bellwood and Westchester, then set to open, including a picture of the tower that controlled movements on this branch off the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin main line.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
PS- We have added the two nocturnal shots to our previous post Night Beat (June 21, 2016). If you like this style of photography, you might want to check it out.
New Steam Audio CD:
FYI, we have digitally remastered another classic steam railroad audio LP to Compact Disc. Many additional titles, including the complete output of the Railroad Record Club, in our Online Store.
RGTS Rio Grande to Silverton: A Sound Portrait of Mountain Railroading Price: $14.99
These are vintage 1960 narrow gauge steam train recordings, in true stereo, and originally released on LP in 1961. It is long out of print.
01. Riding The Train To Silverton
02. Photo Run At Elk Park
03. Arriving At Silverton
04. Train Time At La Jara
05. Illini Special At Cumbres Pass
06. Doubleheader Starting At Monero
07. Eastbound Freight
08. Arriving At Chama
09. Whistles At Coxo
10. Freight With Pusher At Coxo
Gone are the nostalgic sounds of steam echoes and thundering exhausts, but the memory is immortal. May they live on in the locomotive lexicon, as a monument to the era when trains were pulled by STEAM POWER.
As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.
Total time – 45:49
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway. Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago: 60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958) 75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943) 80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938) To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways. While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages Chapter Titles: 01. The River Tunnels 02. The Freight Tunnels 03. Make No Little Plans 04. The State Street Subway 05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway 06. Displaced 07. Death of an Interurban 08. The Last Street Railway 09. Subways and Superhighways 10. Subways Since 1960 Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author. The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States. For Shipping to US Addresses: For Shipping to Canada: For Shipping Elsewhere:
Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo) Help Support The Trolley Dodger
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As we once again celebrate the holiday season, we all have many reasons to be thankful, including each other. I regret to inform you, if you have not already heard, of the recent passing of noted Canadian railfan historian and photographer John F. Bromley, who died on December 1st after a short illness. I believe he was about 80.
Mr. Bromley was a giant among Canadian railfans, and it is fair to say he was the preeminent historian of Toronto traction, for perhaps the last 50 years.
He authored TTC ’28: The Electric Railway Services of the Toronto Transportation Commission in 1928, published by Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (1979), and Fifty Years of Progressive Transit – A History of the Toronto Transit Commission, (with Jack May), published by the Electric Railroaders’ Association (1978). While these are both long out of print, you should have no difficulty in finding them on the used market.
In addition to being a friend of this blog, Mr. Bromley contributed to the various railfan books that I have worked on, including Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-58 (CERA Bulletin 146), Chicago Trolleys, and Building Chicago’s Subways. Besides his own photographs, which are excellent, he had an extensive collection of many others, including some rare original 1942 Kodachrome slides of the Chicago Surface Lines. Those would be, as far as I know, among the very earliest color CSL images of any kind. Unfortunately, the name of the photographer is not known.
John Bromley specialized in night photography, as you will see in the tribute below, created by Bill Volkmer. This was oriiginally made as a PDF slideshow, and if you want, you can still view it that way here, but since not everyone would be able to see it, I have separated it out into images. We thank Mr. Volkmer for making this tribute, and for sharing it with our readers.
We follow after that with a selection of images from the John F. Bromley Collection that have previously appeared here.
We also have additional contributions from noted Milwaukee historian Larry Sakar, William Shapotkin, and a few recent finds of our own. We thank all our contributors.
CSL 4010 and 4035 in experimental paint at the Madison-Austin loop on November 24, 1945. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 7027 is southbound at Dearborn and Monroe, the east end of route 20 Madison, in June 1946. (Ohio Brass Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 4400 southbound on Clark at Arthur, August 15, 1956. (John F. Bromley Photo, M. D. McCarter Collection)
CTA 7208 southbound on Clark at Van Buren, a view from the Loop “L”, on August 15, 1956. (John F. Bromley Photo, M. D. McCarter Collection)
CTA 4218 at State and 95th on April 4, 1948 (route 36 – Broadway-State). (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 4039 at Madison and Austin on June 30, 1946. (Barney Neuburger Collection, Courtesy of John F. Bromley)
CSL 4051 at the Madison and Austin loop on February 22, 1942. This car had previously been modified with an experimental door arrangement later used on the 600 postwar Chicago PCCs. By the time this picture was taken, it had been partially returned to its original configuration. As John Bromley notes, “The car is not yet fully restored after the rear entrance experiment. It’s missing one front door and is thus in a hybrid state.” (James J. Buckley Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)
CTA 818 by the Park Theatre at Lake and Austin on August 13, 1948. I don’t believe the movie theatre stayed open much later than this. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT 155 on private right-of-way west of the Brookfield Zoo on April 11, 1948, on the CERA “day after abandonment” fantrip. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT at 52nd and 36th on February 28, 1938. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT 119 on August 19, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT 138 at the Brookfield Zoo on July 22, 1938, on the busy LaGrange line. The zoo first opened in 1934. Within a year or two, all West Towns streetcars would be repainted blue. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT 15 on DesPlaines Avenue on April 11, 1948. The occasion was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip, held the day after West Towns streetcar service came to an end. Note one of the distinctive C&WT shelters at rear. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT line car 15 at Harlem and Cermak on August 19, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 1933 at Chicago Avenue and Lake Shore Drive on May 12, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 6034 is at Kedzie and Bryn Mawr, the north end of route 17, on April 16, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 3217 is on route 73 – Armitage on July 1, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection) Andre Kristopans: “EB passing Mozart Park at Armitage and Avers.”
CSL 3212 heads up the line-up at Archer Station (car house) on October 16, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 2802 is on Anthony Avenue at Commercial Avenue in this July 13, 1941 photo. Note the Pennsylvania Railroad station at rear. (John F. Bromley Collection) Bob Laich: “The building immediately behind CSL 2802 on Anthony Avenue was PRR’s South Chicago freight station, which was built at street level. The platform for the South Chicago passenger station can be seen on the elevation in the right background.” Andre Kristopans adds, “something odd here – note “Special” sign in front window. Appears to be a charter waiting for its party off the PRR.” This must be Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip #35, which used this car on that date.
CTA 3266 at 71st and California on the 67-69-71 route on May 29, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 6236 at 71st and California on the 67-69-71 route on May 29, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 5508 at 79th and Western on May 29, 1949. That looks like a 1948-50 Packard at left, which some have nicknamed the “pregnant elephant” styling. We can catch a glimpse of the nearby CTA turnback loop for route 49 – Western at right. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL Pullman 677 on the outer end of Milwaukee Avenue on March 4, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection) Andre Kristopans: “677 – Most likely on Milwaukee north of Central where many cars turned back. Originally turnback point was Gale St, right where Jefferson Park terminal now is, but later was moved to Central.”
CSL Pullman 696 at the Museum Loop in Grant Park in April 1940. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL Pullman 431 on Cicero Avenue, February 22, 1940. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA Sedan 3377, showing the original door configuration, southbound on Cottage Grove at 95th Street on May 6, 1951. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA Sedans (Peter Witts) 3360 and 3347 are shown here at south Shops in 1952, having been converted to one-man with the removal of some center doors. There were 25 cars so modified, but as far as I know, only one ran in service in this setup. (Robert W. Gibson Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)
Prewar CTA PCC 7020, now converted to one-man operation, is southbound at Western and Maypole in May 1956, about a month before the end of streetcar service on route 49. The prewar cars were used for 364 days on this line. In the back, that is the Lake Street “L”, which, oddly enough, does not have a stop on this busy street. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 4409 and 4390 at the beautifully landscaped Western-Berwyn loop on May 13, 1950. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)
Pullman-built CTA PCC 4148 southbound at Clark and Thome on May 13, 1950. That is a safety island at right, to protect passengers from errant vehicles. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)
Chicago Surface Lines Brill car 6072 at Kedzie Station on January 28, 1942. (John F. Bromley Collection) I believe this car was built in 1914. You can see part of a Sedan in the background. These were used for fill-in service on Madison along with the prewar PCCs.
Chicago Surface Lines 5241 on 111th Street near Vincennes on August 3, 1947. The sign on the front of the car indicates this was on through route 8. According to http://www.chicagrailfan.com, “Various Through Route combinations existed throughout the early history of this route. Original Through Route operated between Grace/Halsted and 63rd/Stony Island via Halsted and 63rd St. Beginning in 1912, some Halsted service, mainly route 42 Halsted-Downtown service, began operating south of 79th St. via Vincennes and 111th St. to Sacramento, over what now is the 112 route. While for most of through service continuing north on Halsted, the south terminal remained 79th St. Effective 5/24/31, the through Halsted service generally turned around at 111th/Sacramento, with the downtown service generally turning at 79th St. Through service south of 79th St. discontinued 12/4/49, when segment south of 79th St. was converted to buses.” (John F. Bromley Collection) Our resident South Side expert M. E. adds, “The caption begins: “Chicago Surface Lines 5241 on 111th Street near Vincennes on August 3, 1947.” Not quite. 111th St. approaches Vincennes Ave. only from the east. The car line on 111th St. was not route 8. Instead, route 8 was on Vincennes. Vincennes Ave. continued south of 111th one block to Monterey Ave., whereupon route 8 cars turned right onto Monterey, then about three blocks later, onto 111th St. heading west. (To see all this on a map, use maps.google.com and plug in ‘60643 post office’.) As for the photo, I’d say this car is on Vincennes, heading south, anywhere between 109th and Monterey. I say 109th because route 8 left its private right-of-way (which started at 89th St.) at 107th St. and ran south from 107th on the street.”
The picture above has sparked some controversy over where it was taken. Here is some additional correspondence from John Habermaas:
Merry Christmas… thanks for posting another treasure trove of Surface Lines photos. I am reasonably sure the photo of the Halsted car shown at 111th and Vincennes is on 111th east of Vincennes. Surface Lines parked trippers on 111th to operate to Sacramento to accommodate (the) rush of students from nearby Morgan Park High’s afternoon dismissal. Since the east 111th route was an early abandonment, I suspect the tracks east of that point were no longer used.
Often saw cars parked on this short section laying over until they were needed…often as trippers intended to run westbound to Sacramento. It was a long time ago so I could wrong about this car. The route on 111th between Cottage Grove and Vincennes was discontinued by the Surface Lines in SEP ’45 very likely because much of it was single track and though (it) had light usage, required a two man crew due the many RR grade crossings.
When I was in elementary school I often went to watch the cars climb the 111th street hill. Once in which awhile a HS prankster would reach out the rear window if was opened and pull the trolley rope to de-wire the pole stalling the car on the hill. Most of the Brills apparently could not restart the ascent up the hill, and would have to back down the hill to Longwood Drive for a fresh start, with I suspect the conductor guarding the window.
David took a closer look at picture, this car is definitely parked on the short section of active track between Vincennes and the Rock Island mainline. If you look closely you can see the gates at the crossing for the Rock Island mainline (not to be confused with the Rock Island suburban branch which the route 8 cars cross Hale… looks much different as the line made a jog from Monterey to W 111th).
Most of M. E.’s comments about the Halsted route are correct, except for his guess about the location of the streetcar. It is on 111th Street east of Vincennes. He may not be aware of the Surfaces Line’s practice using portion of the abandoned 111th Street line as layover point. I do remember seeing streetcars positioned there. The line on Vincennes was originally built by the C&IT (Chicago and Interurban Traction) which had (a) carbarn at 88th and Vincennes. That early traction ordinance made them divest their property within the city. The CSL used the 88th street carbarn for dead storage, until streetcar service on Halsted was abandoned south of 79th. The portion of the line west of Vincennes on Monterey and 111th was a branch line built to serve the cemeteries at 111th and Sacranento.
I am impressed with John Bromley’s photos. You can see, from these blow ups, the quality of his photos and how detailed it is. The one photo shows that the car is just standing with no motorman at the controls. The second shoes the stretch behind the car and you can clearly make out the Rock Island RR crossing gates. The location is definitely 111th east of Vincennes as John captioned it.
Thank you for sharing your excellent insights.
This picture of CTA one-man car 3236, taken on January 14, 1950 shows it crossing Maplewood Avenue on what is obviously an east-west trolley line. John F. Bromley, who sold me this negative, was unsure of the location. Jeff Wien writes, “I would guess that it is at 71st & Maplewood. Bill Hoffman lived all of his life at 6664 S. Maplewood which was a half mile north. Maplewood is a block or two west of Western. Route 67 covered 67th, 69th and 71st as far west as California (2800). Maplewood is around 2600 West. Check out the streets to see if I am correct. The one man cars were used on route 67.” Looks like Jeff is correct, as further research shows that the house at left is still standing at 7053 S. Maplewood.
John sent me this picture last year, but I didn’t get around to using it until now.
You might be interested in this, pulled off the Internet. Original caption noted this as ”Bronzeville”. CSL April 1941 47th ST looking west.
Here’s a little bit of a mix of things for The Trolley Dodger if you’re interested. First, in keeping with the season here is a picture taken at the corner of N. 4th St. and W. Wisconsin Ave. ca. Xmas 1927. The photographer is facing northeast. The letters “RA” at the bottom of that large sign across the street (NE corner of 4th & Wisconsin) are the last two in the name “Alhambra”. The Alhambra was a movie theater that stood until about 1960 on the northeast corner of 4th & Wisconsin. Directly across the street as you can see was the Boston Store Dept. store. The building is still there but Boston Store went out of business either late last year or earlier this year. For anyone who ever shopped at Carson’s in Chicago, Boston Store was identical. At one time both were owned by P.A. Bergner Co. Note the TM 600 series car westbound on Wisconsin Ave. running on Rt. 12w – 12th St. Brouwer’s next door to the theater was a shoe company one of many shoe stores in downtown like Thom Mc Cann and Packard-Rellin. To the best of my knowledge they, like the movie theaters are now gone.
We know this has to be 1927 or later because of the movie playing at the Alhambra. “Swim Girl Swim” starring Bebe Daniels (1901-1971) was released in 1927. It was a silent movie. Ms.. Daniels was both a star of silent films and talkies. Her biography says she even made a few television appearances. The “Center” destination on the 600 is a bit curious. Rt. 12 streetcars ran all the way to N. Holton & E. Richards Sts. Perhaps it was short turning for some reason. The decorations atop the Boston Store marquee tell us this is Christmas season. Today, the Henry Reuss Federal Plaza occupies the entire north side of Wisconsin Ave. from N. 3rd to N. 4th Sts. Its blue exterior has earned it the nickname “Blue Whale.”
Now for two photographs I call “Foolers.” They’re not where their destination sign says they are. Both of these were real head-scratchers, until I finally determined where they are. The photo of car 651 with TM shorthand of WAU co BLDGS” and a route 10 in the route sign box made me think this was somewhere near the Muirdale Sanitorium (for patients with TB) which was served by Rt. 10 streetcars continuing west from the Harwood Ave. terminal in the heart of the Wauwatosa Village to the Sanitorium in Muirdale. This was out on Watertown Plank Rd. Service west of Harwood Ave. was converted to buses in 1937. WAU CO BLDGS meant Wauwatosa County Buildings. The former Sanitorium still stands today on Research Drive in the Milwaukee County Research Park adjacent to the massive Froedtert Hospital Campus. It is presently used as an office building. Dave Stanley helped me figure out where this really is. The car is laying over at S. 84th & W. Lapham Ave., the west end of RT 19. In all probability the photographer (unknown) talked the motorman into rolling up that sign which hadn’t been used in years. The last 600s ended service in early 1949 except for 607, which was saved by the Railroad Historical Foundation also known as the “607 Gang.” It is often seen in photographs amid the surplus ex TM 1100s stored on the tracks leading into the never completed Rapid Transit subway ca.1949-51 In 1952, The RHF received notice from Hyman-Michaels Scrap Co. that the car had to be removed from the Speedrail property or it would be scrapped. With all of the RHF members save one having been drafted (Korean War) there was nowhere to go with the streetcar, so it was sold to HM for scrap.
When I received the photo of car 943 I couldn’t figure out where the car was on 35th St. Rt 35 was the 35th St route. The 35th St. destination in the sign below the roof route sign made zero sense. If it was a northbound car the destination would say either Burleigh or Fond du lac as the tri-intersection of N. 35th , W. Burleigh St. and W. Fond du lac Ave. was the northern terminus (the west side of Fond du lac car station). If it was southbound the destination would be Mt. Vernon Ave. (the last street before heading across the 35th St. viaduct which streetcars never crossed). Upon closer examination I realized just where this is and what it is. It’s a TM publicity photo. Car 943 is westbound on W. Michigan St. between N. 3rd and N. 4th Sts. The “crowd” waiting to board are TM employees doubtlessly recruited from the Public Service Building out of the picture to the right of 943 . Now take a closer look between the “Front Entrance Safety Car” sign on 943’s right front dash and the “crowd”. This was obviously a time exposure. You see a “ghosted” 1100 series interurban probably headed into the PSB from Sheboygan. or perhaps headed the opposite way. It’s hard to tell.
Recently, I sent you a picture of Al Buetschle, who saved TM 978, holding up pieces from the shattered car 39 . This was at the site of the 9-2-50 fatal head-on collision post abandonment. Here are two more photos. In the first one Al holds up a roof ventilator and another piece of the shattered lightweight duplex. Car 1192 (duplex 1192-93) plowed thru 3/4ths of car 39 before stopping. Duplex 39-40 was so badly damaged that both were shoved off the r.o.w. into the drainage ditch along the east side of the r.o.w. The late Lew Martin, a member of the RHF, snapped this photo of people milling around in the wreckage of car 39. This is followed by a shot of duplex 45-46 enroute Hales Corners at the accident site some time later. I believe Lew Martin also took this photo. In addition to Al with the roof ventilator we see his friend Lee Bremer holding up one of the door panels from car 39. Neither of them owned a car in 1952 so taking the door home with them was not an option. It would have been a bit clumsy to haul on a Transport Co. bus!
I also recently sent a photo of the Port Washington station as it looked in service and in 1983. Here is a much better photo showing KMCL D3 (formerly D23) on the loop with the station at the left. The photo is from the Don Ross collection. In 1983 the QWIK Cement Co. and just about everything else that surrounded the loop was gone replaced by a Wisconsin Telephone Co. bldg. The former station did not appear to be in use.
Unfortunately, it appears that Al Buetschle passed away sometime in 2018. He was probably in his mid-80s.
Here are two more photos of the 978. The first one is an Ed Wilson photo. I am guessing this is sometime in the 1940s. The location is East Wisconsin Ave near N. Van Buren St. The building with the tall columns rising above 978 is the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. headquarters. The C&NW lakefront depot would be behind the photographer photo left one block east. Unfortunately, Milwaukee could not see fit to save it, just as they couldn’t with the Milwaukee Road Everett St. station and the North Shore station. I believe it was author Jim Scribbins who said in one of his books, “Milwaukee does not practice urban renewal. In Milwaukee it’s urban removal!”
One thing seen in this photo is rather odd. Rt. 13-Clybourn-Michigan never ran 900 series cars. The ex-Racine city cars renumbered into the 750 series and the 800s were the cars that saw service on Rt. 13. Rt. 13 was an early victim of bustitution as I like to call it being converted to trolley bus on 9-14-41. The route was discontinued by MCTS several years ago due to lack of riders.
The second photo of the 978 was taken by the late Ernie Maragos of Racine, WI in the summer of 1957. Among newsworthy events that year the then Milwaukee Braves won the World Series. It would be the last summer for Milwaukee streetcars. In Ernie’s picture 978 has just crossed the Wells St. bridge over the Milwaukee River, and will soon stop for N. Water St. If Ernie had turned to his right you would be seeing the Oneida St. WEPCO power plant and the west end of the famous Pabst Theatre. Oneida St. was the original name of Wells St. and was named for the Native American tribe that lived in the area before Milwaukee became a city in 1850. The Power Plant was decommissioned some time ago and is now a theatre, like the Pabst next door presenting live stage performances. I believe they call it the “Powerhouse Theatre.”
When it comes to colossal mistakes the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Company (which bought out TMER&T in late 1952) decided to move a group of surplus streetcars to the stadium spur in Calvary Cemetery cut in the winter of 1955-56. The cars were surplus, because by this time only two or three streetcar lines remained. Space needed to be created for new incoming GM Diesel buses. This was not a scrap line. The cars were stored here for lack of someplace better The photo of car 925 taken by TM interurban motorman Ed Wilson shows what happened. Vandals took full advantage. Note the holes in 925’s front window made by rocks probably taken from track ballast on the streetcar tracks. The spur had been laid on the abandoned Rapid Transit Line r.o.w. in 1953.
Al Buetschle, who saved car 978, recalled that one day while riding a RT. 10 Wells-West Allis streetcar through the cut he saw Transport Company employees laying ballast and rails where the Rapid Transit tracks had been just a year earlier. As he tells it, he immediately got off at the Hawley Rd. station (seen in back of the 925) and walked down the r.o.w. to where the construction crew was working. He thought that the Rapid Transit might be coming back but no such luck. The crew informed him that this was to be a new storage track for streetcars serving County Stadium about one-half mile east. When streetcar service ended on March 1, 1958 the spur was no longer needed and the tracks were taken up in May.
One other thing of note in Ed Wilson’s picture. The covered stairs leading up to the Hawley Rd. overpass were unique to this stop. The Calvary Cemetery cut was part of Phase 3 of the city of Milwaukee Rapid Transit project. This phase was known as the Fairview Ave. grade separation project, which removed streetcar and interurbans from street running on Fairview Ave. between 60th and 68th Sts. and placed them on a magnificent 4-track private right-of-way parallel to Fairview Ave. Streetcars stopped at Hawley Rd. 60th St., 62nd St., 65th St. and then descended to street level approaching 68th St. Rapid Transit trains stopped only at 68th St. Streetcars continued across 68th and turned south beneath the 68th St. station overpass, which was actually closer to 69th St. Upon going under the bridge they once again turned west for 1-1/2 blocs to S. 70th St. which they paralleled on a private right-of-way next to S. 70th St. The Wells-West Allis branch terminated at the intersection of S. 70th St. and W. Greenfield Ave. adjacent to the Allis Chalmers Co. Today both the streetcars and the Allis Chalmers Co. plant are gone.
TM 978 at N. Van Buren St. & E. Wisconsin Ave. Ed Wilson photo
M&STC 978 EB on Wells St. between Milw. River and N. Water St. Summer, ’57 Ernie Maragos photo
M&STC 933 et al stored on Stadium spur 1-56 Don Ross photo
M&STC 925 stored at west of Stadium spur Winter 1955-56 Ed Wilson photo
More from Larry:
Here are a few additional items I think Trolley Dodger readers might enjoy. In one of your recent posts you featured a photo of a TM 1100 near the 68th St. station. 68th was a major stop both westbound and eastbound. For westbound passengers this was the first point where they could transfer to continue to West Allis. In this case, you walked down the station stairs and waited for a RT 10-Wells-West Allis streetcar which stopped beneath the Rapid Transit overpass. It would take you all the way to S. 70th St. & W. Greenfield Ave., adjacent to the Allis Chalmers Co. plant. During State Fair week, streetcars turned west on Greenfield and continued to State Fair Park at S. 82nd St. The other West Allis transfer point was S. 84th St., where you boarded a Transport Co. Rt 67 bus to get to West Allis. West Allis car station was in the heart of West Allis at S. 84th & W. Lapham Ave. All trains stopped at 68th St.
The bridge over Brookdale Dr. on the Hales Corners line seemed to be a favorite spot for fans to take pictures of trains headed for Hales Corners, or in earlier years Burlington (until 1938 and West Troy (until 1939). The inaugural Speedrail fan trip of October 16, 1949 using car 60 was no exception. The car was posed on the Brookdale bridge, and it seems that almost every fan aboard it took almost the same picture. Brookdale siding, which stretched all the way from Brookdale Dr. siding to W. Layton Ave., was the point where the line built to carry workmen who were building the suburb of Greendale left the mainline and followed a single track r.o.w., built solely for that purpose. Once construction of Greendale was completed the tracks and wire came down. It was never intended to be a permanent, passenger carrying line.
In 2016, my colleague Chris Barney took these two photos showing what was left of the abandoned r.o.w. at Brookdale Dr. The r.o.w. was graded down some years ago, but the fancy stone bridge over the nearby culvert remains to this day. Look below the Rapid Transit bridge and to the left to see it in Speedrail’s day. Other bits and pieces of the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line can still be found. West of the Red Star Yeast Plant at about N. 28th St. the r.o.w. was built to accommodate four tracks, though only two were ever built. When I-94, the East-West Expressway, was built through here in the mid-to-late 1960’s, it was built over what had been the Rapid Transit line though at a much higher elevation. That was probably done to reduce the length of the on and off ramps. The abandoned r.o.w. was bought by the city of Milwaukee (the initial phase of the East-West Freeway was a city and not Milwaukee County project). In 1953, then WEPCO sold the abandoned r.o.w. between N. 8th St and W. Hibernia St 4-1/2 miles west to Soldiers Home (52nd St.) for $1,000,800, supposedly the price they paid for it in 1925. The high tension electric transmission towers, like the one seen in the background (that’s the 35th St. viaduct in back of it) of my photo, were moved over to the never used portion of the r.o.w., costing the City of Milwaukee and additional $500,000. Consider that according to trustee Bruno V. Bitker, Speedrail needed at least $250,000 to be successfully reorganized. In the 68-1/2 years since abandonment of the Rapid Transit, time has amply demonstrated which of the two was better (hint; it’s not the East-West Freeway.) In February 1951, when Speedrail VP of Operations Ed Tennyson and Metropolitan Transit Committee Chairman Al Kalmbach met with Milwaukee city officials, they were turned down by the aldermen who claimed that the city could not show favoritism to just the two wards through which The Rapid Transit operated. Yet, they didn’t seem one bit concerned about it when the expressway was built on the Rapid Transit line r.o.w. through those same two wards!
The black and white 8×10 photo of the 68th St. station is from a book later placed on microfilm called “Subways Along Milwaukee Rapid Transit Lines.” No, not the never completed subway. In this case “subways” referred to streets over which the Rapid Transit crossed on a bridge. Its purpose was apparently to measure the clearances, so that the info could be placed on the bridge for cars and trucks passing beneath. Every bridge between Hibernia St. and 84th St. was photographed in all four directions. Also checked for clearances was the North Shore Line from Oklahoma Avenue south to Howell and Rawson Aves. in Oak Creek. Today, all traces of the Rapid Transit line west of the west end of Calvary Cemetery cut have vanished. The embankments from S. 70th St. west were all removed in the mid-1960s, and power lines similar to the ones that now occupy the former NSL Skokie Valley Route placed in the middle of the abandoned r.o.w. The recent rebuilding of the Zoo Interchange has obliterated all traces of West Jct. Widening of Highway 100 (S. 108th St. between W. Forest Home Ave. and W. Edgerton Ave. in Hales Corners has eliminated what remained of the abandoned Hales Corners line r.o.w.
Here’s a great “Then and Now” Speedrail photo for you. The small b&w shows car 60 on the Brookdale Dr. bridge. The date is 10-16-49, and this is the inaugural fan trip introducing the 60 series curved side cars. I think just about every fan on that trip snapped a picture of the car sitting on that bridge. Fast forward to 2016. My colleague, Chris Barney took these photos at Brookdale Dr.
(this is on the Hales Corners line by the way). First, look beneath the bridge on the left hand side. You’ll see a stone barrier in front of a culvert that ran alongside the r.o.w. Now look at the bottom photo. In the center of the picture you see that same stone bridge. The abandoned r.o.w. has been completely removed. The “bridge” to which Chris was referring was the one over the Root River built by the Milwaukee Light Heat & Traction Co. in 1905. WEnergies removed it in 2017 because it was deteriorated to the point where it was going to fall into the river. They could access the power lines on either side of the river so the bridge was no longer needed.
I drew an arrow to the stone bridge in the 1949 photo. It can be kind of hard to make out in the 1949 photo. This entire area is part of Root River Parkway and yes, this is the same Root River crossed by the NSL near 4 1/2 Mile Rd. just north of Racine.
Aband Rapid Transit r.o.w. @ 32nd St. lkg west in 2003 by Larry Sakar
SR 60 posed on Brookdale Bridge from Brookdale Dr. 10-16-49
SR 60 on Brookdale Dr. bridge 10-16-49 inaugural fan trip. Herb Danneman coll.
Brookdale Dr. xing in 2016 by Chris Barney
Showing culvert bridge in 1949 photo
Speedrail 60 WB at 68th St. ca. Summer, 1950. L. Sakar coll.
68th St. sta. lkg NE in 1937 City of MKE. Survey
Charles Kronenwetter comments:
Love the latest set of photos, especially those from Milwaukee. One comment though, I believe that the photo of the 943 shows it Southbound on 3rd St right in front of PSB. (You can see the tracks heading into the building just to the right of the 943.) The park to the left is the one that sat in front of the Milwaukee Road depot. The building to the rear of the car is, I think the Medford Hotel and the white building to the left is the Boston Store. I’ve seen this photo somewhere else and you are correct, it was a staged photo using volunteers from the PSB.
The photo showing the fan holding up the door from the wrecked 39 appears to have been taken after the tracks had been pulled up. I never did hear what became of the ties after that although I do recall seeing a bulldozer with some sort of plow on the front, maybe out around the gravel pit.
I did salvage and still have a seat cushion from one of the last 1100s being scrapped which my dad picked up for me. I don’t know what to do with it but hate to see it tossed after all those years 🙂
Thanks for the great photos, keep up the good work 🙂
From the Collections of William Shapotkin:
CTA trolley bus 9509, heading south on Route 52 – Kedzie, is at Kedzie and 51st . (Charles E. Keevil Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
This early postcard shows the Chicago “L” at a time, in the 1890s, when steam provided the power. I would presume this view is of Lake Street, with Wolf Point in the distance. (William Shapotkin Collection)
This picture was taken on November 24, 1955, at Western Avenue and 75th, with a PCC heading north, about to go under the Belt Railway of Chicago. A mid-50s Ford heads south. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA prewar PCC cars 4041, 4028, and others are on what appears to be the brand new turnaround loop at 63rd Place and Narragansett, which became the west end of Route 63 in 1948. The bus at left offered connecting service west of here. Previously, red streetcars ran to Oak Park Avenue, where they could easily turn back using a crossover, as they were double-ended. There is still a bus loop, although smaller, on this location. The first PCC is wearing “tiger stripes,” intended to improve motorist visibility, while its follower has the colors applied by CSL in 1941. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Chicago Surface Lines “Matchbox” 1423 is heading towards Fulton and Western. The notation on the back of the photograph says Fulton-21st-Canal. (William Shapotkin Collection) Andre Kristopans adds, “The Fulton-21 shot looks to be 21st and Sangamon, crossing the Burlington branch that came off the main at 16th and followed Sangamon down to the Lumber District line at Cermak. Mostly ripped up maybe 10 years ago. Lumber District line itself is barely alive with only one or two customers left.”
I believe we may have run a similar picture before. This shows the North Shore Line station adjacent to the CTA “L” station at Adams and Wabash. (William Shapotkin Collection)
A westbound CTA Route 58 – Ogden streetcar descends into the Washington Street tunnel circa 1950, about to head under the Chicago River. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Roosevelt Road and Wabash Avenue in the late 1940s. (William Shapotkin Collection)
This April 1975 view of Chicago’s Loop “L” is notable, for three things in particular that are no longer there. The 2200-series railcars have been retired, the Sun-Times/Daily News building has been replaced by Trump Tower, and even the station where this photo was taken (Randolph and Wabash) is now gone.
According to the notes the late Robert Selle made for this photograph, taken on October 26, 1958, this is the start of a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. This was more than a year after passenger service had been abandoned on the Chicago Aurora and Elgin interurban. The location is a crossover just east of First Avenue in Maywood, and we are looking mainly to the east. Due to construction of the nearby Eisenhower Expressway, this would have been about as far east as CA&E trains could have gone at this time. Here, the line curved off to the right and headed southeast before crossing the DesPlaines River. Building the highway through that spot meant the CA&E tracks, and bridge, had to be moved slightly north of where they had been. This was all put back in place by 1959, but was never used since the interurban was abandoned. The fantrip train included cars 453 and 430. Mr. Selle did not identify the middle car in his notes, but no doubt it can be determined from other pictures taken on the same trip.
Bob Selle took this picture on August 8, 1954, during a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip on the Chicago Aurora and Elgin interurban, using wood car 310. This was a photo stop on the freight-only Mt. Carmel branch, which ran alongside Mannheim Road. Mr. Selle identified this location as a quarry, but it would be interesting to know just how far south this was. It may be possible to determine this from the location of the houses at right, assuming they are still there. As far as I know, tracks at this time ended just south of Roosevelt Road and had once served the cemetery there.
Jeff Haertlein wanted to share this video with you that he found on YouTube, showing the extensive model train layout called a Minirama that was on display in the Wisconsin Dells for many years:
Graham Titley writes:
Firstly can I say how much I have enjoyed reading through many of the posts and how informative they are!
I am part of a Facebook group that have been ‘challenged’ to identify a photo of a interurban/streetcar/tram accident.
I have found several images of nearly similar trams (for simplicity I’ll only type this term), some in Chicago and Milwaukee in your posts, as well as early trams in Adelaide and Melbourne, Australia – without finding what I consider an exact match. The main issue is the low placement of the light on the front and the style of the ride board/bumper. The tram is clearly aluminium or steel as the frontage under the windows is a single curve.
There appears to be no identification numbers or names on the front.
It is possible that the image is of a crash in Northern Europe – however, I think the single arm connector makes it more likely that the location is North America.
I would be grateful for any thoughts that you may have.
In my gut I think the locale is North America, possibly Illinois, Connecticut or New England, or perhaps Canada – rather than being Europe.
I have found similarities with cars built by American Car Co, Brill Hicks, Cincinnati Car Co, Jewett and Wason – but nothing I consider an exact match to the configuration of the windows, bumper, horn/light at centre front, and the ‘railroad’ roof with clerestory windows.
I think the car may be more suburban and does not look as if there are any couplings for multi-car use. Due to the perspective it is difficult to estimate the length but the impression given is that it is a short car. I also wondered of it could be a freight trolley.
Unfortunately what I think is the destination board (which has fallen down in the left side window) cannot be enhanced sufficiently to become legible.
I have exhausted the sources, books, images and museum collection rosters that I can think of or find.
If you don’t have any thoughts this image will have to remain unidentified – for now!
Graham (in UK).
Perhaps our readers may have some ideas, thanks.
From Bill Volkmer:
From Eric Bronsky:
This photo was taken in 1936. The USA was deep in the doldrums of the Great Depression. President Roosevelt was elected to a second term, Art Deco and Streamline Moderne were in fashion, the RMS Queen Mary made her maiden voyage, and a loaf of bread cost 8 cents.
On this snowy day, we’re shivering on a windswept ‘L’ platform, watching a Jackson Park-bound 4-car train of Chicago Rapid Transit Co. 4000-series “Baldies” grind out of the University station above 63rd Street. Completed in 1893, this station served South Siders until the mid-1990s, when the line was rebuilt and cut back to Cottage Grove. Express trains used the center track in the old days.
Photographed by Frank Butts, this image is now in the Bruce Moffat Collection. Though it’s spectacular in B&W, I thought that color would truly bring it to life. Bruce graciously provided a high-res scan of the B&W print for this purpose and I colorized it using Adobe Photoshop CS6.
But this scene still looked rather dreary for a Holiday card, so I decided to add a bit of cheer by making a few modifications. Some are fairly obvious but you might need to examine the image more closely to spot others (transit “purists” will note that the brown & orange paint scheme did not appear until 1938).
That’s all for now, folks. We will round out 2019 with one more post next week, featuring all new material.
Now Available On Compact Disc
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
# of Discs – 1
Price: $15.99 Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
Newly rediscovered and digitized after 60 years, most of these audio recordings of Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban trains are previously unheard, and include on-train recordings, run-bys, and switching. Includes both Electroliners, standard cars, and locomotives. Recorded between 1955 and 1963 on the Skokie Valley Route and Mundelein branch. We are donating $5 from the sale of each disc to Kenneth Gear, who saved these and many other original Railroad Record Club master tapes from oblivion.
Total time – 73:14 [/caption]
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
# of Discs- 3
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes Our friend Kenneth Gear recently acquired the original Railroad Record Club master tapes. These have been digitized, and we are now offering over three hours of 1950s traction audio recordings that have not been heard in 60 years.
Properties covered include: Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick), Capital Transit, Altoona & Logan Valley, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, Pennsylvania Railroad, Illinois Terminal, Baltimore Transit, Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto, St. Louis Public Transit, Queensboro Bridge, Third Avenue El, Southern Iowa Railway, IND Subway (NYC), Johnstown Traction, Cincinnati Street Railway, and the Toledo & Eastern $5 from the sale of each set will go to Kenneth Gear, who has invested thousands of dollars to purchase all the remaining artifacts relating to William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. It is very unlikely that he will ever be able to recoup his investment, but we support his efforts at preserving this important history, and sharing it with railfans everywhere. Disc One Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick): 01. 3:45 Box motor #5 02. 3:32 Box motor #5, May 24, 1953 03. 4:53 Engine whistle signals, loco #12, January 17, 1954 04. 4:13 Loco #12 Capital Transit: 05. 0:56 PCC car 1557, Route 20 – Cabin John line, July 19, 1953 06. 1:43 Altoona & Logan Valley: 07. 4:00 Master Unit car #74, August 8, 1953 Shaker Heights Rapid Transit: 08. 4:17 Car 306 (ex-AE&FRE), September 27, 1953 09. 4:04 10. 1:39 Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1s: 11. 4:35 August 27, 1954 12. 4:51 Illinois Terminal: 13. 5:02 Streamliner #300, northward from Edwardsville, February 14, 1955 14. 12:40 Car #202 (ex-1202), between Springfield and Decatur, February 1955 Baltimore Transit: 15. 4:56 Car 5706, January 16, 1954 16. 4:45 Car 5727, January 16, 1954 Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto: 17. 4:19 Interurbans #83 and #80, October 1954 18. 5:20 #80, October 1954 Total time: 79:30 Disc Two St. Louis Public Service: 01. 4:34 PCCs #1708, 1752, 1727, 1739, December 6, 1953 Queensboro Bridge Company (New York City): 02. 5:37 Cars #606, 605, and 601, December 31, 1954 03. 5:17 Third Avenue El (New York City): 04. 5:07 December 31. 1954 05. 4:47 Cars #1797, 1759, and 1784 at 59th Street, December 31, 1954 Southern Iowa Railway: 06. 4:46 Loco #400, August 17, 1955 07. 5:09 Passenger interurban #9 IND Subway (New York City): 08. 8:40 Queens Plaza station, December 31, 1954 Last Run of the Hagerstown & Frederick: 09. 17:34 Car #172, February 20, 1954 – as broadcast on WJEJ, February 21, 1954, with host Carroll James, Sr. Total time: 61:31 Disc Three Altoona & Logan Valley/Johnstown Traction: 01. 29:34 (Johnstown Traction recordings were made August 9, 1953) Cincinnati Street Railway: 02. 17:25 (Car 187, Brighton Car House, December 13, 1951– regular service abandoned April 29, 1951) Toledo & Eastern: 03. 10:36 (recorded May 3-7, 1958– line abandoned July 1958) Capital Transit: 04. 16:26 sounds recorded on board a PCC (early 1950s) Total time: 74:02 Total time (3 discs) – 215:03
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here. Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway. Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways
There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago: 60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958) 75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943) 80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.
While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages Chapter Titles: 01. The River Tunnels 02. The Freight Tunnels 03. Make No Little Plans 04. The State Street Subway 05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway 06. Displaced 07. Death of an Interurban 08. The Last Street Railway 09. Subways and Superhighways 10. Subways Since 1960 Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author. The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States. For Shipping to US Addresses: For Shipping to Canada: For Shipping Elsewhere: Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)
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