Railfan Ephemera

Closeup of CA&E wood car 309, now restored to operating condition at the Illinois Railway Museum.

Closeup of CA&E wood car 309, now restored to operating condition at the Illinois Railway Museum.

According to the Wikipedia:

Ephemera (singular: ephemeron) is any transitory written or printed matter not meant to be retained or preserved. The word derives from the Greek, meaning things lasting no more than a day. Some collectible ephemera are advertising trade cards, airsickness bags, bookmarks, catalogues, greeting cards, letters, pamphlets, postcards, posters, prospectuses, defunct stock certificates or tickets, and zines.

In library and information science, the term ephemera also describes the class of published single-sheet or single page documents which are meant to be thrown away after one use.

Today’s post features some railfan ephemera, things that were designed for transitory use, that few people would have considered worth saving. We can be thankful that they were saved, since these items can sometimes tell us important things we would not know otherwise.

There are several tidbits of information in the brochures and flyers we’re presenting today. A CTA brochure from 1949 includes a very good statement of how that agency intended to speed up rapid transit service.

An early (1959) fundraising flyer from an early version of the Illinois Railway Museum calls CA&E car 309 the “jewel” of the Roarin’ Elgin’s fleet. This car was eventually purchased by the museum and, after surviving a later fire, restored back to operating condition.

Don’s Rail Photos says, “309 was built by Hicks Locomotive Works in 1907. It was modernized in October 1941 and acquired by Illinois Railway Museum in 1962.”

You can read the 309 story on the excellent Hicks Car Works blog here.

We have several other CA&E-related items. A timetable from late 1939 pinpoints the date when the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin interurban switched their route into Aurora from street trackage to a new private right-of-way along the Fox River.

Finally, there are some vintage CTA flyers that describe how to troubleshoot various problems on the venerable 4000-series “L” cars that were, for so many years, a mainstay of the system before their retirement in 1973. Two cars from that fleet are still on the CTA property today and are occasionally run, as they were last year, when they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Skokie Swift, today’s Yellow Line.

-David Sadowski

A flyer from the Illinois Electric Railway Museum, circa 1959, attempting to raise funds to save car 309, described as the “jewel” of the CA&E fleet.

The interior of CA&E car 300, as it appeared on February 25, 1962, shortly before this car was scrapped.

The interior of CA&E car 300, as it appeared on February 25, 1962, shortly before this car was scrapped.

CA&E 36, built by John Stephenson in 1904. After the interurban's demise, it was purchased by Trolleyville USA in Ohio. It came to the Illinois Railway Museum in 2009 where it remains in operating condition.

CA&E 36, built by John Stephenson in 1904. After the interurban’s demise, it was purchased by Trolleyville USA in Ohio. It came to the Illinois Railway Museum in 2009 where it remains in operating condition.

A flyer advertising a 1939 CA&E fantrip that included the street trackage in Aurora, shortly before this was eliminated.

A flyer advertising a 1939 CA&E fantrip that included the street trackage in Aurora, shortly before this was eliminated.

A CA&E timetable announcing a change in the right-of-way entering Aurora, effective December 31, 1939.

A CA&E timetable announcing a change in the right-of-way entering Aurora, effective December 31, 1939.

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A pass from an early CERA fantrip.

A pass from an early CERA fantrip.

Itinerary for a 1942 fantrip on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin.

Itinerary for a 1942 fantrip on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin.

An advertising insert for the Electric Railway Pictorial (1945).

An advertising insert for the Electric Railway Pictorial (1945).

The advert for the Electric Railway Pictorial includes what is probably a builder's photo from St. Louis Car Company, showing one of the curved-side CA&E cars delivered in 1945-46.

The advert for the Electric Railway Pictorial includes what is probably a builder’s photo from St. Louis Car Company, showing one of the curved-side CA&E cars delivered in 1945-46.

Once A/B service proved successful on the Lake Street “L”, the CTA extended it to other routes.

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Those 4000s sure got around in their day. Here is a rare shot of Chicago Rapid Transit Company "L" car 4432 heading up a train in North Shore Line street running territory on Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette. It was probably pressed into service hauling the military during World War II.

Those 4000s sure got around in their day. Here is a rare shot of Chicago Rapid Transit Company “L” car 4432 heading up a train in North Shore Line street running territory on Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette. It was probably pressed into service hauling the military during World War II.

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The illustration on the CTA brochure is patterned after the statue Flying Mercury by Giovanni da Bologna (1529-1608). The messenger of the gods and patron of commerce and trading, winged Mercury speeds through the skies carrying the caduceus that symbolizes both immunity during war and the practice of medicine. Bologna, working in the Medici court in Florence in 1580, composed his subject in the figura serpentine that masterfully guides the eye.

The illustration on the CTA brochure is patterned after the statue Flying Mercury by Giovanni da Bologna (1529-1608).
The messenger of the gods and patron of commerce and trading, winged Mercury speeds through the skies carrying the caduceus that symbolizes both immunity during war and the practice of medicine. Bologna, working in the Medici court in Florence in 1580, composed his subject in the figura serpentine that masterfully guides the eye.

Closeup of a 1949 CTA brochure announcing the expansion of A/B “skip stop” service to North-South routes.

Construction of a turning loop at Howard Yard, 1949-50. This photo was the subject of the correspondence that follows.

Construction of a turning loop at Howard Yard, 1949-50. This photo was the subject of the correspondence that follows.

The institution of A/B service led to other changes. As the following correspondence shows, it impacted where CTA stored rapid transit trains. As the CTA’s Tom Buck pointed out, prior to this, trains terminated at various places along the North-South line, and service was overlapping. Once “Skip Stop” service began, there was a need for improved facilities at the ends of the line.

Thus, a turning loop was installed at Howard Yard between 1949 and 1950, so that trains could be turned around quicker.

Nowadays, the term “cc” (short for carbon copy) is widely used in e-mail. But there was a time when it had a more literal meaning. Back in the days when people corresponded via typewriters, if you wanted to keep a record of letters written, you would make a carbon copy.

You would place a piece of blue carbon paper behind your stationary, and behind that, a very thin sheet. Here are two such carbon copies.

These letters date from 1975, in the years before home computers, in the days when people still wrote actual letters to each other and mailed them. Before he worked at the CTA, Tom Buck (1917-2004) wrote about transit matters for the Chicago Tribune.

-The Editor

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