The Fairmount Park Trolley

The Fairmount Park trolley, just prior to abandonment in 1946.

The Fairmount Park trolley, just prior to abandonment in 1946.

Many years ago, old-time railfans would compile “dossiers” or scrapbooks about their favorite lines. Eventually, some of these dossiers were used to help write books about those same properties.

Over the last three years or so, I have been collecting information about the Fairmount Park trolley operation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Today’s post is my “dossier” for your enjoyment. Hopefully, it will give you some of the flavor of what it must have been like to ride that long-gone scenic trolley.

There are today, of course, other scenic trolleys with open cars in service, but these are latter-day recreations such as in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Photos of the Fairmount Park trolley are scarce, so it took quite some time to find this many. Pictures in color are even scarcer, as few people were using color film as early as 1946.

There are some books about this line that do not have as many pictures as we have in this post. Most of the images you see here are taken from the original medium-format negatives.

Some of those dark spots that you see in the sky in some of the pictures are actually birds flying around in the park.

Even finding a decent map of the line was not easy. I purchased one of the “broadsides” used for the 1946 auction, and this fortunately had a nice map in it. Apparently the electric cars were used one last time to give prospective bidders a tour of the line, just days before the end of the half-century long franchise agreement.

Reports indicate that many people refused to get off the cars at the end of the line, having enjoyed it so much they went for multiple rides. This created problems on busy days.

Dr. Harold E. Cox, in his 1970 book The Fairmount Park Trolley: A Unique Philadelphia Experiment, told the fascinating story of this self-contained trolley operation that ran in a very large public park for nearly 50 years, from November 1896 until September 1946. He called it an experiment, because a park trolley line was quite unusual. There was one other example that ran in Europe, but for a much shorter period of time.

The Fairmount Park Transportation Company used the same rolling stock, originally built by Brill in 1896-97, for the entire life of the 8-mile long trolley. This was also quite unusual. Nothing seems to have been updated or replaced with anything newer.

J. G. Brill was an obvious choice for a builder as they were located in Philadelphia, and were at that time the industry leader.

By 1946, Fairmount Park was a virtual rolling museum of vintage equipment. The trolley operated year-round, on a reduced schedule during the winter of course. Open cars were used in the summer and closed cars in the winter.

The line mainly ran on the west side of the park, on a long one-way single track loop entirely on private right-of-way. There was a Junction station if you wanted to take a short cut and not have to ride all the way around the loop.

There were some double-tracked sections too, which you can see on the map below.

The east and west halves of the park were connected by a long bridge, built by the trolley company. It was renovated in the 1990s and is still in use today.

The FPTC built Woodside Amusement Park in 1897 and this provided another reason to use the park trolley. Woodside actually outlasted the trolley and closed in 1955.

Through the years, one of the closed cars was converted to a rather bizarre-looking line car. Various models have been made of this car. It sticks in your mind, just as it does the first time you see Frankenstein’s monster cobbled together from parts of various cadavers.

After World War II, the park trolley was badly in need to new equipment and new track, but it had operated at a loss for many years, and there were no funds available. The Philadelphia chapter of the National Railway Historical Society drafted a proposal to save the line, suggesting that if fares were increased, additional monies could be used for renovations. Unfortunately, this came to naught, and the trolley was allowed to abandon service as of September 1946, about two months before the end of its 50-year franchise.

The trolley assets were sold at auction in November 1946, an event advertised using a large “broadside” printed brochure. All the cars were scrapped, and the rails, ties, wire, and line poles removed.

Eventually, it became difficult to tell just where the trolley had run through the park. In recent years, efforts have been made to turn the old trolley right-of-way into a trail. You can read about the Trolley Trail Demonstration Project here.

Some remnants of the trolley persist-  read about that here.

In spite of the winters in the northeast, there were a few streetcar lines that used open cars in warm weather for longer than practically anywhere else. Open cars were used in service to shuttle people to the Yale Bowl in Connecticut as late as 1948.

We are also featuring a few additional pictures from the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway, which ran open cars on the Jersey shore until 1945. We thank our resident New Jersey expert Kenneth Gear for helping research this obscure trolley line.

In addition, there is some interesting correspondence with Andre Kristopans and more great restored Chicago Aurora & Elgin pictures, courtesy of Jack Bejna.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

PS- The word “broadside,” meaning a large advertisement such as this, took on an additional meaning during the folk song revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s. It brings to mind Broadside magazine, which began publishing in 1962 and continued through the 1970s.

Some of the images in today’s post were taken by the Reverend W. Lupher Hay (1905-1984), who lived in Canton, Ohio. According to author George W. Hilton, W. Lupher Hay purchased an interurban car from the Toledo, Port Clinton and Lakeside in 1934 for use as a summer home; he sold it in 1941.* Interestingly, his wife Fay (nee Siebert) (1910-2010), who survived him, passed away one day short of her 100th birthday.

*From The Toledo, Port Clinton and Lakeside Railway, Bulletin 42 of the Electric Railway Historical Society (1964), page 32.

Our next post will be our 200th, and we have been saving up some great Chicago images for that. Watch this space.

Car 8.

Car 8.

Trailer 55 in the mid-1940s.

Trailer 55 in the mid-1940s.

Car 15.

Car 15.

Car 8. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Car 8. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Car 14.

Car 14.

Car 7.

Car 7.

Car 31 near a tunnel.

Car 31 near a tunnel.

Car 54, a 14-bench open car and two other cars in the same series at the Belmont Avenue car house in July 1934. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 54, a 14-bench open car and two other cars in the same series at the Belmont Avenue car house in July 1934. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 4 leaving the sation, moving away from the photographer in January 1935. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 4 leaving the sation, moving away from the photographer in January 1935. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 1 on October 13, 1935.

Car 1 on October 13, 1935.

Car 8, signed for Dauphin Street, is at 44th and Parkside on October 13, 1935.

Car 8, signed for Dauphin Street, is at 44th and Parkside on October 13, 1935.

Very much the same as the previous shot, same car and location (44th and Parkside) but two weeks later on October 27, 1935. (William Lichtenstern Photo)

Very much the same as the previous shot, same car and location (44th and Parkside) but two weeks later on October 27, 1935. (William Lichtenstern Photo)

The Strawberry Mansion Bridge, which connects the east and west sides of the park.

The Strawberry Mansion Bridge, which connects the east and west sides of the park.

Closed car 5, which was built by Brill in 1896 along with the rest of the fleet.

Closed car 5, which was built by Brill in 1896 along with the rest of the fleet.

Parkside station.

Parkside station.

A stock certificate.

A stock certificate.

A paper transfer.

A paper transfer.

A stock certificate.

A stock certificate.

A 1910 postcard, quite "colorized."

A 1910 postcard, quite “colorized.”

Car 18 at the Junction station. The date is given as December 12, 1935, but the time of the year seems unlikely from the way people are dressed, and the looks of the trees. If the date was 2035, this could possibly be the correct attire, but as of 1935, there hadn't been enough global warming just yet.

Car 18 at the Junction station. The date is given as December 12, 1935, but the time of the year seems unlikely from the way people are dressed, and the looks of the trees. If the date was 2035, this could possibly be the correct attire, but as of 1935, there hadn’t been enough global warming just yet.

Car 3 on January 23, 1937. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 3 on January 23, 1937. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Composite line or utility car 200 was made from closed passenger car 9. Here we see it at the Belmont Avenue car house on June 26, 1936. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Composite line or utility car 200 was made from closed passenger car 9. Here we see it at the Belmont Avenue car house on June 26, 1936. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Car 16 on April 19, 1937.

Car 16 on April 19, 1937.

Line car 200 on October 16, 1938.

Line car 200 on October 16, 1938.

Car 30 at the car house on September 17, 1939.

Car 30 at the car house on September 17, 1939.

Car 11 in 1939. (Duane Bearse Photo)

Car 11 in 1939. (Duane Bearse Photo)

Car 14 at the terminal near the Philadelphia Transportation Company terminal in 1940. They did not share any tracks.

Car 14 at the terminal near the Philadelphia Transportation Company terminal in 1940. They did not share any tracks.

You can tell this picture was taken at the same time and place as the last one in 1940. That's the same girl in both pictures.

You can tell this picture was taken at the same time and place as the last one in 1940. That’s the same girl in both pictures.

An open car at 44th Street in 1941.

An open car at 44th Street in 1941.

Car 18 in May 1941.

Car 18 in May 1941.

Car 32 "at speed" in May 1941.

Car 32 “at speed” in May 1941.

May 1941.

May 1941.

The interior of an open car in May 1941. This charming photo also appeared in Harold Cox's book, but here we see it scanned from the original negative.

The interior of an open car in May 1941. This charming photo also appeared in Harold Cox’s book, but here we see it scanned from the original negative.

Two open cars in May 1941.

Two open cars in May 1941.

Two open cars in May 1941.

Two open cars in May 1941.

#31 in May 1941, as seen from another car.

#31 in May 1941, as seen from another car.

#46 in May 1941.

#46 in May 1941.

#23, as seen from a passing car in May 1941.

#23, as seen from a passing car in May 1941.

#18 in May 1941.

#18 in May 1941.

#25 in May 1941.

#25 in May 1941.

#25 in May 1941.

#25 in May 1941.

#19 in May 1941.

#19 in May 1941.

#28 in May 1941.

#28 in May 1941.

#46 in May 1941.

#46 in May 1941.

Car #21 in May 1941.

Car #21 in May 1941.

#18 at the car house in September 1941.

#18 at the car house in September 1941.

Car 10, shown here at Woodside in September 1941, is signed for the Philadelphia chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, so perhaps this is a fantrip. Trailer #50 is at the rear out of view.

Car 10, shown here at Woodside in September 1941, is signed for the Philadelphia chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, so perhaps this is a fantrip. Trailer #50 is at the rear out of view.

#49, a trailer, seen here as the rear car of a two-car train at the Park Junction station in 1942.

#49, a trailer, seen here as the rear car of a two-car train at the Park Junction station in 1942.

#26 in the car house in 1944.

#26 in the car house in 1944.

Car 18 at the station in June 1945. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Car 18 at the station in June 1945. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Cars 19 and 36 on the Strawberry Mansion Bridge over the Schuykill River near Woodford Station on July 9, 1944. The bridge, built in 1896-97 for the trolley company, is still in use, but the section used by the streetcars has only recently been repurposed with a "pedestrian promenade."

Cars 19 and 36 on the Strawberry Mansion Bridge over the Schuykill River near Woodford Station on July 9, 1944. The bridge, built in 1896-97 for the trolley company, is still in use, but the section used by the streetcars has only recently been repurposed with a “pedestrian promenade.”

#7 inside the car house in June 1946.

#7 inside the car house in June 1946.

Car 25 at the Junction station on April 13, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 25 at the Junction station on April 13, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 11 at the 44th and Parkside terminal on April 14, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 11 at the 44th and Parkside terminal on April 14, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 3 on April 13, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 3 on April 13, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 20 on April 14, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 20 on April 14, 1946. (Major G. F. Cunningham Photo)

Car 5 at the car house.

Car 5 at the car house.

The November 6, 1946 auction.

The November 6, 1946 auction.

Dismantling the line in late 1946 or early 1947.

Dismantling the line in late 1946 or early 1947.

Dismantling the line in late 1946 or early 1947.

Dismantling the line in late 1946 or early 1947.

1946 Color Film by Gerhard Salomon:

Bill Volkmer Writes:

Might be of interest to you. I believe the Strawberry Mansion Bridge photos came in an estate collection I bought from Syd Walker who was a bus driver for Southern Penn. Bought them ca. 1960.

Thanks very much!

Car 15 on July 7, 1946. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 15 on July 7, 1946. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 10 at Woodside in 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 10 at Woodside in 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 31. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 31. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

The Strawberry Mansion Bridge circa 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

The Strawberry Mansion Bridge circa 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 10 circa 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Car 10 circa 1945. (Bill Volkmer Collection)

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway

Me, to Kenneth Gear:

I have collected a few photos of the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway in Wildwood, NJ. As a New Jersey-ite, I was wondering if you can tell me anything about it. There hardly seems to be any info about it online.

I get the impression that the trolleys ran until the mid-1940s. It seems the company is still in business, and runs tourist trolleys that are gas powered. They claim to be an “interurban” on their web site but offer no history.

Thanks.

Wow, “New Jersey-ite”! That’s probably the nicest thing we’ve been called in a long time!

As for the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway, I personally know very little but my “go to” reference book on NJ streetcar lines has 6 pages of information. The book is STREETCARS OF NEW JERSEY by Joseph F. Eid, Jr. & Barker Gummere.

I’ve scanned the pages and attached them. Hope this tells you all you want to know.

Hey, thanks very much!

So, what nicknames do people from NJ go by? Here, I guess we have Chicagoans, or Illinoisans.

We prefer “Jerseyian” or for us men, “Jersey Guys”.

OK, thanks… FYI, I organized your scans into a PDF.

So, the trolley quit in 1945 but the bus operation that succeeded it is still going. Apparently, the character of life on the Jersey Shore changed during World War II, as there were German U-Boats preying on shipping just off the coast. They used the lights from the boardwalks to outline ships they were hunting, so a nighttime blackout was instituted.

Incredibly, there are reports that sometimes sailors from the U-Boats would row ashore and buy food locally to take back to their submarines.

Unlike the Fairmount Park trolley, at least one car from Five Mile Beach was saved. Car 36 is now at the Connecticut Trolley Museum. Read more about it here.

In Wildwood. Not sure which car this is.

In Wildwood. Not sure which car this is.

Car 20, signed for "Crest."

Car 20, signed for “Crest.”

Car 36 in Wildwood.

Car 36 in Wildwood.

Car 30 at Anglesea in July 1935.

Car 30 at Anglesea in July 1935.

Car 25 at Wildwood in the mid-1940s.

Car 25 at Wildwood in the mid-1940s.

Five Mile Beach car 26 at Wildwood, NJ in 1944. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach car 26 at Wildwood, NJ in 1944. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach cars 22 and 27 at the Wildwood car house on May 30, 1945. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach cars 22 and 27 at the Wildwood car house on May 30, 1945. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Car 36 at the Wildwood car house in 1944. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Car 36 at the Wildwood car house in 1944. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Car 36 on its way to the Connecticut Trolley Museum in 1945.

Car 36 on its way to the Connecticut Trolley Museum in 1945.

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)

The Five Mile Beach Electric Railway line truck on May 30, 1945, at the Wildwood car house around the time of abandonment. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

The Five Mile Beach Electric Railway line truck on May 30, 1945, at the Wildwood car house around the time of abandonment. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

A former Five Mile Beach Electric Railway streetcar at Wildwood, New Jersey in the late 1940s. The sign at left says, "Barbecued chicken our specialty." (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

A former Five Mile Beach Electric Railway streetcar at Wildwood, New Jersey in the late 1940s. The sign at left says, “Barbecued chicken our specialty.” (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 36 at Warehouse Point, Connecticut on August 16, 1952.

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 36 at Warehouse Point, Connecticut on August 16, 1952.

Videos

Wildwood: The History of An American Resort

NJN Documentary Our Vanishing Past – Wildwood

Wildwoods by the Sea:

CA&E 1923 Pullman Cars

Here are more great Chicago Aurora & Elgin photo restorations, courtesy of Jack Bejna:

I recently received my copy of “Images of Rail: Chicago Trolleys”, just in time to take with on a flight from Florida to Los Angeles. I read it from cover to cover and enjoyed it immensely!

Glad you like it. Thanks!

In 1923 CA&E ordered 20 new cars (400­419) from Pullman. These cars were all steel and were state of the art when purchased. They were equipped with Tomlinson couplers and were not capable of training with any of the wood cars in the fleet. The new cars were put into limited service initially, but they eventually were used for all types of service.

Of these, the 409 at the Illinois Railway Museum is the lone survivor.

Recent Correspondence

The Last of the Red-Hot Pullmans

CTA 225 on October 12, 1956.

CTA 225 on October 12, 1956.

Me, to Andre Kristopans:

After the last of the red streetcars were taken out of service in May 1954, I read that the CTA planned to keep “about 10 or so” cars for emergency use.

It seems like the figure was actually nine cars. Looks like six were burned in March 1956, an event that was covered in the CTA Transit News. There is some film footage too:

From photos taken at that time, I see that some of the cars burned were 362, 453 (or is it 153), and 542. The three saved cars, of course, are 144, 225, and 460.

Any idea what numbers the other three cars might have been?

Thanks.

Actually, there seem to have been eight. There are 8 cars listed as off the books on 2/23/56:

144,225,288,362,453,460,507,542

They were part of a large group of 55 cars retired on AFR 16455R, comprising all remaining red cars. Rest were scrapped in 1955.

Thanks very much… but that CTA video sure seems to show six cars being torched.

This is somewhat strange, isn’t it? LOOKS like it might be six cars, but the scrap lists (which are contemporary records!) show only 8 cars with a 2/23/56 disposal date. Also, why do 144, 225, 460 show a “scrap date”? In fact 144 didn’t go to IRM until 1959, 460 sat around until 1985!. Only other departure was 225, supposedly in 1956 (but see below!). Apparently these are “removed from the books” dates. Another strange observation: Why are these cars so badly banged up? Especially the one at the north end of the lineup. Looks like it was chewed up by something. Were they pushing them around with forklifts? Even a forklift wouldn’t do THAT much damage. Looks like it was hit by a train!

Another tidbit – 2/1/56 roster on the IRM-CTA website has these same 8 cars listed as authorized for retirement but still around. 3/1/55 roster at same shows 60 cars in storage – scrap lists for 52 all come up April-May 1955. So unless there were some shenanigans – such as the 225 at Seashore isn’t the real 225, but another car sent to Seashore renumbered 225 and stricken off the books in 1955 under it’s real number and the real 225 was actually burned 2/56??? I can’t come up with another explanation. Can you?

I’ve been to Seashore, and that car is largely in original condition, more so than 144. There’s nothing to indicate any changes in numbering.

I think 225 might have left Chicago in 1957.

144 may have belonged to IERM while still being used in fantrip service.

I posted this on the chicagobus.org forum. This is the only thing that makes sense. If there are indeed six being burned in the video, I can’t come up with a better explanation.

Andre

You guys want to hear an interesting conspiracy theory? Well, I have one for you. First, a bit of background: I have in my possession a CTA list, hand-written and added-on to over they years, of scrapping dates for all streetcars. This can be considered a “contemporary record”. I also have in my possession a listing of which streetcars were retired under which Authorization for Retirement. Finally, the IRM-CTA website has on it various CTA rosters, with the pertinent dates being for 3/1/54 and 2/1/56.

According to the 3/1/54 roster, there were still 60 red streetcars sitting in storage. The 2/1/56 roster lists 8 left (144,225,288,362,453,460,507,542). The scrap list gives dates for the other 52 as in April and May of 1955, so this all comes out correct.

Now it gets interesting. CTA Connections has a video showing the burning of what is said to be the last red streetcars at 77th in the winter of 1956. The scrap list shows a 2/23/56 date for all eight cars listed above. HOWEVER — there is a problem. The video shows what appears to be six cars being burned. There should only have been five! Note of the above eight cars listed, three supposedly still exist – 144, 225, and 460. So what gives???

144 went to IRM in 1959. 460 sat at CTA for decades at Lincoln, Lawndale, etc. until it was finally shipped to IRM in 1985. 225 is at Seashore, and has been there since 1956, according to their website. It appears the dates in the scrap lists are actually the date a car was removed from inventory, not necessarily the actual date burned, though that date was probably soon after. So what would the sixth car scrapped in March of 1956 have been?

Here is a thought: Is it possible CTA did a number swap in 1955, and another car was actually shipped off to Seashore, lettered as 225? At this point, 61 years later, it would probably not be possible to determine if this is true, except maybe by a VERY detailed examination of the car at Seashore. However, if this is what happened, then the real 225 was the sixth car burned in 1956. Of the six cars being burned, you can only make out numbers on a couple, and in fact at least one has its number painted out. Maybe this swap was made because the real 225 had a major problem, and somebody at South Shops took it upon themselves to “send a better car?” CTA list does not note anything about 144 or 460 except a date, so if a car shown as off the inventory in 1955 was in fact shipped out, there would not likely be any note attached to it either.

Any better explanations??

Very interesting!

On the other hand, how about this scenario:

  1. The three saved cars 144, 225, and 460 have their original numbers.

2. Five other red cars were burned early in 1956.

3. One other car, not on the list of eight, was also burned at that time. This had been involved in a major wreck at some time previous, and therefore had an earlier retirement date, since there was no intention of fixing it.

This car sat around for some time until they got around to torching it with the others.

CTA was very good at scrapping what the paper said was scrapped. So definitely something marked 225 was burned that day in all likelihood, while whatever car went to Seashore while it might have been marked 225 on the car itself as it sat on the flatcar was written off as it’s “real” number, whatever it might have been. Or alternatively, the 225 burned wasn’t “really” 225 but something else in reality. No way to tell at this point, except that most likely the car at Seashore is most likely not really 225???

On the car at Seashore, I did not notice anything inside the car that would look as though the number got changed. Pretty sure I took some pictures of that too.

OK – this is what we know for sure: There are six cars burning. CTA 3/1/56 roster lists 8 cars. Scrap list corroborates these 8. 1954 roster lists 60. Scrap list corroborates that 52 scrapped 1955. So what conclusion can be drawn? A car that is listed as scrapped in 1955 at least on paper was renumbered 225 and burned 1956. Note we can make out 362, 542, 288, 507, 453 at various points, but not the sixth number. East lineup seems to be 362 (north), 453, unknown. West lineup is unknown, 288, 507?. 542 seems to be at the end of one of the rows. 542 is a smooth-side, the south car on the east row is not, but south car on west row is. Note south car on east row seems to have no visible numbers??? Only thing I can say is some number was retired in 1955 was actually 225 shipped out, while that number off the 1955 scrap list was actually burned in 1956. CTA was known to do number swapping to make reality match paperwork.

Got it, thanks.

225 was still on the property as of October 21, 1956. (It was used on a fantrip that date.)

Only thing I can say is somebody was fudging the paperwork. Were only 51 cars were burned in 1955 and the 52nd (number unknown) was actually burned in 1956? In that case somebody made a paperwork error, in multiple places, or was some other car previously written off as scrapped actually burned in 1956? This might be the case, if there is indeed a car with number painted out sitting in the fire line. Maybe another car was to go to Seashore and had been written off earlier, but then 225 was chosen instead and the original candidate burned? Like I said, it appears the dates are the day car was turned over to Materials Management for disposal, not the day something was actually burned. If somebody could come up with a specific date a specific car was burned, it might be possible to confirm this, but this is what it appears to be.

One car did seem to have the number painted out…

225 and 144 were both used for competing fantrips on February 10, 1957. Of the two, photos show 225’s number looking newer than 144. But of course that just may mean it had received a new paint job more recently than the other car. That does not necessarily indicate a renumbering of 225.

At least, that does confirm a 1957 date for 225 being moved to the Seashore Trolley Museum instead of 1956.

These car numbers only took on any significance when they were practically the only cars left. Before that, there were so many cars, one or two did not have particular importance. The May 16, 1954 “Farewell to the Red Cars” fantrip used 473 and 479, not 144 or 225.

Maybe the late Maury Klebolt was on to something when he “renumbered” the 144 into 225 for a December 1956 fantrip, eh?

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.

-David Sadowski

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Recent Finds, 8-16-2017

Chicago Aurora & Elgin wood car 301 sports a new paint job at Wheaton Yard in August 1959, two years after the end of passenger service. It sits forlornly while waiting for a buyer that never came. Fortunately, some other cars were saved.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin wood car 301 sports a new paint job at Wheaton Yard in August 1959, two years after the end of passenger service. It sits forlornly while waiting for a buyer that never came. Fortunately, some other cars were saved.

We have been hard at work since our last post. Here are lots of great, classic pictures for your consideration.

In addition, we have new CD titles, which include about six hours of classic train audio. This means we have now digitized the complete Railroad Record Club collection and have made these long out-of-print recordings available to a new generation of fans. For each hour of CD audio, there is at least 10 hours of work involved. I hope that you will enjoy the results.

Our new book Chicago Trolleys is now 100% finished and has gone to press. There is also a set of 15 postcards available for a very reasonable price, using selected images from the book. The details are at the end of this post.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

CTA one-man streetcar 3144 heads east on Route 16 - Lake Street somewhere between Laramie and Pine Street, while a two-car train of 400-series "L" cars runs at ground level parallel to the streetcar. The time must be near the end of red car service here, which was May 30, 1954, as that is a 1953 or 1954 Cadillac at left. The C&NW signal tower on the embankment is still there today, at about Pine Street, which is where streetcars crossed the "L" to run north of the embankment for a few blocks before terminating at Austin Boulevard, the city limits.

CTA one-man streetcar 3144 heads east on Route 16 – Lake Street somewhere between Laramie and Pine Street, while a two-car train of 400-series “L” cars runs at ground level parallel to the streetcar. The time must be near the end of red car service here, which was May 30, 1954, as that is a 1953 or 1954 Cadillac at left. The C&NW signal tower on the embankment is still there today, at about Pine Street, which is where streetcars crossed the “L” to run north of the embankment for a few blocks before terminating at Austin Boulevard, the city limits.

CTA 1777 is on Lake Street heading east near Laramie, next to the ramp that once took the Lake Street "L" up to steel structure. A few of the older red trolleys were repainted in this color scheme by CTA, but I don't know anyone who found this very attractive when compared to what it replaced. The total distance where streetcars and "L" cars ran side-by-side was only a few blocks.

CTA 1777 is on Lake Street heading east near Laramie, next to the ramp that once took the Lake Street “L” up to steel structure. A few of the older red trolleys were repainted in this color scheme by CTA, but I don’t know anyone who found this very attractive when compared to what it replaced. The total distance where streetcars and “L” cars ran side-by-side was only a few blocks.

The same location today, at about 5450 West Lake Street.

The same location today, at about 5450 West Lake Street.

A two-car train of CTA 4000s at the west end of the Lake Street "L" in Forest Park. This picture was probably taken circa 1961-62, since you can see that at right, work is already underway on expanding the embankment to create space for a rail yard. On October 28, 1962, the out end of Lake was relocated to the C&NW embankment at left.

A two-car train of CTA 4000s at the west end of the Lake Street “L” in Forest Park. This picture was probably taken circa 1961-62, since you can see that at right, work is already underway on expanding the embankment to create space for a rail yard. On October 28, 1962, the out end of Lake was relocated to the C&NW embankment at left.

Here, we see the Garfield Park "L" temporary tracks on Van Buren at Loomis, looking east on July 1, 1956. Construction on the adjacent Congress Expressway (now Eisenhower) is pretty far along. This operation would continue until the opening of the Congress median line on June 22, 1958.

Here, we see the Garfield Park “L” temporary tracks on Van Buren at Loomis, looking east on July 1, 1956. Construction on the adjacent Congress Expressway (now Eisenhower) is pretty far along. This operation would continue until the opening of the Congress median line on June 22, 1958.

At left, we can see Chicago Pullman 225 under a makeshift shelter at the Seashore Trolley Museum. 225 went there in 1957, but offhand, I'm not sure when the UK double-decker tram made the trip across the Atlantic.

At left, we can see Chicago Pullman 225 under a makeshift shelter at the Seashore Trolley Museum. 225 went there in 1957, but offhand, I’m not sure when the UK double-decker tram made the trip across the Atlantic.

A night shot from the National Tramway Museum in Crich (UK), which is home to more than 60 trams built between 1900 and 1950.

A night shot from the National Tramway Museum in Crich (UK), which is home to more than 60 trams built between 1900 and 1950.

CTA's line car S-606 at the Dempster terminal of the Skokie Swift (today's Yellow Line). According to Don's Rail Photos, "S-606 was built by Cincinnati in January 1923, #2620, as Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 606. In 1963 it became CTA S-606 and burned in 1978. The remains were sold to the Indiana Transportation Museum." (Photo by Bob Harris) Bob Harris adds, "By the way, the body of 606 is back in Illinois. When CLS&SB #73 comes out of the restoration shop, 606 goes in. We have the Cincinnati Car Company drawings. But since 606 was virtually destroyed in the November 26, 1977 fire, this will be more of a re-creation rather than a restoration."

CTA’s line car S-606 at the Dempster terminal of the Skokie Swift (today’s Yellow Line). According to Don’s Rail Photos, “S-606 was built by Cincinnati in January 1923, #2620, as Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 606. In 1963 it became CTA S-606 and burned in 1978. The remains were sold to the Indiana Transportation Museum.” (Photo by Bob Harris) Bob Harris adds, “By the way, the body of 606 is back in Illinois. When CLS&SB #73 comes out of the restoration shop, 606 goes in. We have the Cincinnati Car Company drawings. But since 606 was virtually destroyed in the November 26, 1977 fire, this will be more of a re-creation rather than a restoration.”

Here, we are looking south on State Street from Monroe in 1942. Construction of the State Street Subway is being finished up, with the construction of stairway entrances. New streetcar tracks have been set in concrete, while it looks like some street paving work is still going on. The famous Palmer House is at left. There are a few references to WWII visible, meaning this picture was taken after Pearl Harbor. The subway was put into regular service on October 17, 1943.

Here, we are looking south on State Street from Monroe in 1942. Construction of the State Street Subway is being finished up, with the construction of stairway entrances. New streetcar tracks have been set in concrete, while it looks like some street paving work is still going on. The famous Palmer House is at left. There are a few references to WWII visible, meaning this picture was taken after Pearl Harbor. The subway was put into regular service on October 17, 1943.

A close-up of the previous picture.

A close-up of the previous picture.

This aerial view shows the old Main Chicago Post Office and the near west side in 1946, before work started on building the Congress Expressway (now Eisenhower), which now runs right through the center of the building. That will give you an idea of just what a massive project this was. The old Metropolitan "L", parts of which were displaced by the highway, has already curved off to the left, where it can be seen crossing the Union Station train sheds. Two side-by-side bridges carried the four tracks over the Chicago River. Then, tracks split, one part going to the Wells Street Terminal, the other continuing to a connection with the Loop structure at Wells and Van Buren. Now, the CTA Blue Line subway goes underneath the post office and river.

This aerial view shows the old Main Chicago Post Office and the near west side in 1946, before work started on building the Congress Expressway (now Eisenhower), which now runs right through the center of the building. That will give you an idea of just what a massive project this was. The old Metropolitan “L”, parts of which were displaced by the highway, has already curved off to the left, where it can be seen crossing the Union Station train sheds. Two side-by-side bridges carried the four tracks over the Chicago River. Then, tracks split, one part going to the Wells Street Terminal, the other continuing to a connection with the Loop structure at Wells and Van Buren. Now, the CTA Blue Line subway goes underneath the post office and river.

A close-up of the previous picture shows the Met "L" in greater detail. An eastbound two-car "L" train and a red CSL streetcar are visible.

A close-up of the previous picture shows the Met “L” in greater detail. An eastbound two-car “L” train and a red CSL streetcar are visible.

In this picture, it looks like the Congress Expressway (now Eisenhower) has just opened, which would date the picture to November 1960. We are looking east near Oak Park Avenue. Many things are unfinished, and traffic is limited to two lanes in each direction (and already very crowded). According to Graham Garfield's excellent web site, the new Oak Park station opened on March 19, 1960, and the station house was finished on March 27, 1961.

In this picture, it looks like the Congress Expressway (now Eisenhower) has just opened, which would date the picture to November 1960. We are looking east near Oak Park Avenue. Many things are unfinished, and traffic is limited to two lanes in each direction (and already very crowded). According to Graham Garfield’s excellent web site, the new Oak Park station opened on March 19, 1960, and the station house was finished on March 27, 1961.

Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee car 772 in 1959 at the barn lead to the Harrison Street Shops in Milwaukee..

Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee car 772 in 1959 at the barn lead to the Harrison Street Shops in Milwaukee..

North Shore Line car 158 is a northbound Waukegan Express on the Shore Line Route at North Chicago, July 4, 1949. This was the also date of an Electric Railroaders Association (ERA) fantrip. 158 was built by Brill in 1915.

North Shore Line car 158 is a northbound Waukegan Express on the Shore Line Route at North Chicago, July 4, 1949. This was the also date of an Electric Railroaders Association (ERA) fantrip. 158 was built by Brill in 1915.

North Shore Line city streetcar 356 in the 1940s. The consensus is this shows Waukegan, as there was no curve in Milwaukee that matches the buildings in this picture. Jerry Wiatrowski adds, "This is in Waukegan! The photographer is standing on the South side of Belvidere Street looking East/Northeast. The Westbound streetcar is turning off of Marion Street (now South Genesee Street) and will shortly turn right onto South Genesee Street as it travels North thru the center of downtown Waukegan. If I recall correctly, the “s-curve” this streetcar is on was known as “Merchants curve”. The sailors that can be seen in the windows of the car are going to downtown Waukegan from the Great Lakes Naval Base, the South end of the streetcar line."

North Shore Line city streetcar 356 in the 1940s. The consensus is this shows Waukegan, as there was no curve in Milwaukee that matches the buildings in this picture. Jerry Wiatrowski adds, “This is in Waukegan! The photographer is standing on the South side of Belvidere Street looking East/Northeast. The Westbound streetcar is turning off of Marion Street (now South Genesee Street) and will shortly turn right onto South Genesee Street as it travels North thru the center of downtown Waukegan. If I recall correctly, the “s-curve” this streetcar is on was known as “Merchants curve”. The sailors that can be seen in the windows of the car are going to downtown Waukegan from the Great Lakes Naval Base, the South end of the streetcar line.”

Randolph Street looking east in the late 1940s. The RKO Palace Theatre, located at 151 West Randolph, is now the Cadillac Palace.

Randolph Street looking east in the late 1940s. The RKO Palace Theatre, located at 151 West Randolph, is now the Cadillac Palace.

CTA Pullman 106 at South Shops on September 10, 1952.

CTA Pullman 106 at South Shops on September 10, 1952.

A view of the north side of CTA's South Shops on September 10, 1952. In a previous post, we ran a picture of car 4001 taken on this trackage. That picture was taken in the 1930s, and by 1952 it appears one track had been taken out of service.

A view of the north side of CTA’s South Shops on September 10, 1952. In a previous post, we ran a picture of car 4001 taken on this trackage. That picture was taken in the 1930s, and by 1952 it appears one track had been taken out of service.

PS- Here is that photo of 4001, which we previously ran in our post More Chicago PCC Photos – Part Four (10-12-2015):

CSL 4001 may be on non-revenue trackage at the north end of South Shops. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 4001 may be on non-revenue trackage at the north end of South Shops. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

This picture was taken on September 9, 1952, looking north from the Main Street station on CTA's Evanston branch.

This picture was taken on September 9, 1952, looking north from the Main Street station on CTA’s Evanston branch.

On September 9, 1952, a southbound North Shore Line train, running via the Shore Line Route, stops at Foster Street in Evanston. Here, NSL had its own platform to keep passengers from transferring to the "L" without paying another fare. The stairs descended to a free area. It was not necessary to have a similar platform for northbound riders, as North Shore Line conductors would check tickets on the train.

On September 9, 1952, a southbound North Shore Line train, running via the Shore Line Route, stops at Foster Street in Evanston. Here, NSL had its own platform to keep passengers from transferring to the “L” without paying another fare. The stairs descended to a free area. It was not necessary to have a similar platform for northbound riders, as North Shore Line conductors would check tickets on the train.

A view from the 15th floor of the YMCA Hotel on Wabash Avenue on September 9, 1952.

A view from the 15th floor of the YMCA Hotel on Wabash Avenue on September 9, 1952.

Another view from the same location.

Another view from the same location.

From the door configuration, you can tell that this prewar Chicago PCC has been converted to one-man operation. It is running on Route 4 - Cottage Grove in this blow-up of the previous image.

From the door configuration, you can tell that this prewar Chicago PCC has been converted to one-man operation. It is running on Route 4 – Cottage Grove in this blow-up of the previous image.

CTA work car L-203 and various PCCs parked behind South Shops on September 10, 1952.

CTA work car L-203 and various PCCs parked behind South Shops on September 10, 1952.

A CSL trailer being used as an office at South Shops on September 10, 1952.

A CSL trailer being used as an office at South Shops on September 10, 1952.

Here, one-man car 3266 is on the south side (Route 67). The car is at Harvard, heading westbound, and I believe the destination sign reads 79th and California. On the other hand, our resident south side expert M. E. writes: "In pict662.jpg , your caption says "I believe the destination sign reads 79th and California." No, it is 71st and California. Route 67 was known as 67th-69th-71st; abbreviated, just 69th, because that was the longest stretch. In fact, you might want to revise the caption to note that the photo is at 69th and Harvard."

Here, one-man car 3266 is on the south side (Route 67). The car is at Harvard, heading westbound, and I believe the destination sign reads 79th and California. On the other hand, our resident south side expert M. E. writes: “In pict662.jpg , your caption says “I believe the destination sign reads 79th and California.” No, it is 71st and California. Route 67 was known as 67th-69th-71st; abbreviated, just 69th, because that was the longest stretch. In fact, you might want to revise the caption to note that the photo is at 69th and Harvard.”

69th and Harvard today, looking east.

69th and Harvard today, looking east.

CTA 6193, a "169" or Broadway-State car, was built by Cummings in 1923. It was converted to one-man operation in 1949 and has suffered some damage in this September 10, 1952 view at South Shops.

CTA 6193, a “169” or Broadway-State car, was built by Cummings in 1923. It was converted to one-man operation in 1949 and has suffered some damage in this September 10, 1952 view at South Shops.

CTA 4314 and 4304 on the west side of South Shops, September 10, 1952. On the other hand, M. E. writes: "In pict664.jpg, you say "on the west side of South Shops." No, this has to be the east side of South Shops. That's because South Shops was on the east side of Vincennes, so its west side faced Vincennes. There is no Vincennes in this photo." We were just going by the information written in the negative envelope that came with this image, which turns out to be incorrect. Gosh darn those out-of-town photographers!!

CTA 4314 and 4304 on the west side of South Shops, September 10, 1952. On the other hand, M. E. writes: “In pict664.jpg, you say “on the west side of South Shops.” No, this has to be the east side of South Shops. That’s because South Shops was on the east side of Vincennes, so its west side faced Vincennes. There is no Vincennes in this photo.” We were just going by the information written in the negative envelope that came with this image, which turns out to be incorrect. Gosh darn those out-of-town photographers!!

CTA 4314 and 4304 on the east side of South Shops, September 10, 1952.

CTA 4314 and 4304 on the east side of South Shops, September 10, 1952.

CTA prewar PCC 4047 and postwar car 7038 at South Shops on September 10, 1952.

CTA prewar PCC 4047 and postwar car 7038 at South Shops on September 10, 1952.

Two CTA freight locos at South Shops, September 10, 1952.

Two CTA freight locos at South Shops, September 10, 1952.

A CTA freight loco, possibly L-201, at South Shops on September 10, 1952.

A CTA freight loco, possibly L-201, at South Shops on September 10, 1952.

A CTA wood car at 42nd Place, end of the Kenwood branch, during the 1950s. (Walter Broschart Photo)

A CTA wood car at 42nd Place, end of the Kenwood branch, during the 1950s. (Walter Broschart Photo)

A two car train of singles just north of Main Street in Evanston. #27 is the lead car.

A two car train of singles just north of Main Street in Evanston. #27 is the lead car.

A CTA single-car unit under wire on the Evanston branch, just north of Main Street. This might be car 47.

A CTA single-car unit under wire on the Evanston branch, just north of Main Street. This might be car 47.

A CTA single-car unit heads south from Isabella on the Evanston branch, sometime between 1961 and 1973.

A CTA single-car unit heads south from Isabella on the Evanston branch, sometime between 1961 and 1973.

A train of 4000s, signed for Jackson Park via the Subway, in 1947. If I am reading the sign correctly, this is 31st Street, a station the CTA closed in 1949. There was also apparently a Chicago White Sox home game when this picture was taken. M. E. writes: "pict673.jpg features a Jackson Park train at 31st St. Notice three tracks. The middle track was used, although I am unsure under what circumstances. One possibility that comes to mind is that the Kenwood line (until it became a shuttle out of Indiana Ave.) ran on this trackage into the Loop and up to Wilson. The Kenwood was a local. The Englewood and Jackson Park trains sometimes bypassed the Kenwood locals using the middle track. There were switches up and down the line to enable moving to and from the middle track. Another possibility is that at one point the North Shore ran trains south as far as 63rd and Dorchester (1400 East) on the Jackson Park line. Perhaps some CNS&M trains used the middle track. One impossibility is that the Englewood and Jackson Park trains used the middle track the whole way from south of Indiana Ave. to the Loop. I say this was not possible because all the stations on this line were on the outer sides of the outside tracks. I don't recall any Englewood or Jackson Park trains running express on the middle track along this stretch. By the way, prior to the 1949 changes, only the Jackson Park line ran north to Howard. The Englewood ran to Ravenswood (to Lawrence and Kimball)."

A train of 4000s, signed for Jackson Park via the Subway, in 1947. If I am reading the sign correctly, this is 31st Street, a station the CTA closed in 1949. There was also apparently a Chicago White Sox home game when this picture was taken. M. E. writes: “pict673.jpg features a Jackson Park train at 31st St. Notice three tracks. The middle track was used, although I am unsure under what circumstances. One possibility that comes to mind is that the Kenwood line (until it became a shuttle out of Indiana Ave.) ran on this trackage into the Loop and up to Wilson. The Kenwood was a local. The Englewood and Jackson Park trains sometimes bypassed the Kenwood locals using the middle track. There were switches up and down the line to enable moving to and from the middle track.
Another possibility is that at one point the North Shore ran trains south as far as 63rd and Dorchester (1400 East) on the Jackson Park line. Perhaps some CNS&M trains used the middle track.
One impossibility is that the Englewood and Jackson Park trains used the middle track the whole way from south of Indiana Ave. to the Loop. I say this was not possible because all the stations on this line were on the outer sides of the outside tracks. I don’t recall any Englewood or Jackson Park trains running express on the middle track along this stretch.
By the way, prior to the 1949 changes, only the Jackson Park line ran north to Howard. The Englewood ran to Ravenswood (to Lawrence and Kimball).”

A close-up of the previous picture.

A close-up of the previous picture.

North Shore Line city streetcar 509 in August 1941. Don's Rail Photos says, "509 was built by St Louis Car in 1909. It was rebuilt to one man and transferred to Waukegan on November 3, 1922. It was used as a waiting room at 10th Street, North Chicago, for a short time in 1947, until a new station could be built at the truncated north end of the Shore Line Route. It was sold for scrap in 1949."

North Shore Line city streetcar 509 in August 1941. Don’s Rail Photos says, “509 was built by St Louis Car in 1909. It was rebuilt to one man and transferred to Waukegan on November 3, 1922. It was used as a waiting room at 10th Street, North Chicago, for a short time in 1947, until a new station could be built at the truncated north end of the Shore Line Route. It was sold for scrap in 1949.”

North Shore Line wood car 304, built by American Car in 1910, as it looked in June 1938. It became a sleet cutter in 1939 and was scrapped the following year.

North Shore Line wood car 304, built by American Car in 1910, as it looked in June 1938. It became a sleet cutter in 1939 and was scrapped the following year.

Gary Railways 19 at Indiana Harbor on May 1, 1938 during the very first fantrip of Central Electric Railfans' Association. This car was built by Cummings in 1927. (LaMar M. Kelley Photo)

Gary Railways 19 at Indiana Harbor on May 1, 1938 during the very first fantrip of Central Electric Railfans’ Association. This car was built by Cummings in 1927. (LaMar M. Kelley Photo)

Gary Railways 22 on May 10, 1940.

Gary Railways 22 on May 10, 1940.

Gary Railways 21 in 1938, signed for 22nd Avenue. It was built by Cummings in 1927.

Gary Railways 21 in 1938, signed for 22nd Avenue. It was built by Cummings in 1927.

Northern Indiana Railways 216 in South Bend, Indiana on June 25, 1939. The occasion was Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip #9, which brought people here via the South Shore Line. This deck roof car was built by Kuhlman in 1923.

Northern Indiana Railways 216 in South Bend, Indiana on June 25, 1939. The occasion was Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip #9, which brought people here via the South Shore Line. This deck roof car was built by Kuhlman in 1923.

Gary Railways 5, a 1925 Kuhlman product, is shown at Indiana Harbor on May 1, 1938, date of the very first Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip. (LaMar M. Kelley Photo)

Gary Railways 5, a 1925 Kuhlman product, is shown at Indiana Harbor on May 1, 1938, date of the very first Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. (LaMar M. Kelley Photo)

Here, we see New Castle Electric Street Railway 352 in Grant Street at the Erie/B&O/P&LE station in New Castle, PA on August 24, 1941. This was a Birney car, a 1919 National product that, to these eyes, reminds me of the Osgood-Bradley Electromobiles of ten years later. All streetcar service in this area was discontinued on December 11, 1941. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

Here, we see New Castle Electric Street Railway 352 in Grant Street at the Erie/B&O/P&LE station in New Castle, PA on August 24, 1941. This was a Birney car, a 1919 National product that, to these eyes, reminds me of the Osgood-Bradley Electromobiles of ten years later. All streetcar service in this area was discontinued on December 11, 1941. (W. Lupher Hay Photo)

The Queensboro Bridge trolley, which last ran on April 7, 1957, making it New York City's final (to date) streetcar. Our new audio collection has a "mystery track" on it that may or may not be the Queensboro Bridge trolley. You be the judge. It takes a serious railfan to distinguish an Osgood Bradley Electromobile, as we see here, from the very similar Brill Master Unit. Parts from sister car 601 are now being used to help the Electric City Trolley Museum Association restore Scranton Transit car 505.

The Queensboro Bridge trolley, which last ran on April 7, 1957, making it New York City’s final (to date) streetcar. Our new audio collection has a “mystery track” on it that may or may not be the Queensboro Bridge trolley. You be the judge.
It takes a serious railfan to distinguish an Osgood Bradley Electromobile, as we see here, from the very similar Brill Master Unit. Parts from sister car 601 are now being used to help the Electric City Trolley Museum Association restore Scranton Transit car 505.

Indianapolis Railways 175 was a Brill "Master Unit" built in 1934. These were among the last cars built by Brill prior to the pre-PCCs. Brill's idea behind the "Master Unit" was to create a standardized car, but as it turned out, no two orders placed were exactly alike.

Indianapolis Railways 175 was a Brill “Master Unit” built in 1934. These were among the last cars built by Brill prior to the pre-PCCs. Brill’s idea behind the “Master Unit” was to create a standardized car, but as it turned out, no two orders placed were exactly alike.

North Shore Line city streetcar 352 at Harrison Street Shops in Milwaukee, June 1941.

North Shore Line city streetcar 352 at Harrison Street Shops in Milwaukee, June 1941.

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Co. (aka Red Arrow) 13, a 1949 product of St. Louis Car Co., in side-of-the-road operation on West Chester Pike, June 2, 1954. Buses replaced trolleys a few days later to allow for the widening of this important thoroughfare.

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Co. (aka Red Arrow) 13, a 1949 product of St. Louis Car Co., in side-of-the-road operation on West Chester Pike, June 2, 1954. Buses replaced trolleys a few days later to allow for the widening of this important thoroughfare.

Here, Red Arrow 61 approaches the 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby, sometime in the 1930s. Car 61 was a Brill product from about 1927. Note the man wearing a straw hat, which is something people used to do on hot days.

Here, Red Arrow 61 approaches the 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby, sometime in the 1930s. Car 61 was a Brill product from about 1927. Note the man wearing a straw hat, which is something people used to do on hot days.

North Shore Line car 760 in Milwaukee. Don's Rail Photos says: "760 was built by Standard Steel Car Co in 1930. It was modernized in 1945 and rebuilt as (a) Silverliner on September 23, 1952." Since photographer LaMar M. Kelley died on January 5, 1948 (see below), this picture cannot be later than that date.

North Shore Line car 760 in Milwaukee. Don’s Rail Photos says: “760 was built by Standard Steel Car Co in 1930. It was modernized in 1945 and rebuilt as (a) Silverliner on September 23, 1952.” Since photographer LaMar M. Kelley died on January 5, 1948 (see below), this picture cannot be later than that date.

We don't often know much about the people who took some of these historic photographs. But here is an obituary of LaMar M. Kelley appeared in the February 1948 issue of Central Headlight, an employee publication of the New York Central railroad. I also found this online (even though it gets the date wrong): "Lamar M. Kelly (d. 1947) of Elkhart IN worked as a helper at the sand house and coal pockets at Elkhart . He was crippled by polio and devoted most his time to rail photography. He traded negatives with Jerry Best who considered Kelley's work to be of varied quality. Kelley died suddenly in a workplace accident in 1947. His negative collection was sold piecemeal." I object to the author's use of the word "crippled," which implies limitations in someone's life that are more than just physical disabilities. Personally, I think LaMar M. Kelley's photography was quite good, and that he led a life of great accomplishment in his 50 short years.

We don’t often know much about the people who took some of these historic photographs. But here is an obituary of LaMar M. Kelley appeared in the February 1948 issue of Central Headlight, an employee publication of the New York Central railroad. I also found this online (even though it gets the date wrong): “Lamar M. Kelly (d. 1947) of Elkhart IN worked as a helper at the sand house and coal pockets at Elkhart . He was crippled by polio and devoted most his time to rail photography. He traded negatives with Jerry Best who considered Kelley’s work to be of varied quality. Kelley died suddenly in a workplace accident in 1947. His negative collection was sold piecemeal.” I object to the author’s use of the word “crippled,” which implies limitations in someone’s life that are more than just physical disabilities. Personally, I think LaMar M. Kelley’s photography was quite good, and that he led a life of great accomplishment in his 50 short years.

"View of two passenger interurban cars on side track for local southbound loading at Edison Court, Waukegan, Ill. Note sign on post, "Save Your North Shore Line." Photo taken circa 1960 by Richard H. Young. Ultimately, these efforts failed, but the demise of the North Shore Line (and the Chicago Aurora & Elgin) helped spur the Federal Government into action to begin subsidizing transit across the country.

“View of two passenger interurban cars on side track for local southbound loading at Edison Court, Waukegan, Ill. Note sign on post, “Save Your North Shore Line.” Photo taken circa 1960 by Richard H. Young. Ultimately, these efforts failed, but the demise of the North Shore Line (and the Chicago Aurora & Elgin) helped spur the Federal Government into action to begin subsidizing transit across the country.

As new streetcar tracks are being laid in Milwaukee, it is important to know what we once had that was lost. Here, the North Shore Line terminal in downtown Milwaukee is being reduced to rubble in 1964, a year after passenger service ended. If only we could have found some way to keep what we had, we wouldn't now need to build so much. An important lesson in life-- it is better to create than it is to destroy.

As new streetcar tracks are being laid in Milwaukee, it is important to know what we once had that was lost. Here, the North Shore Line terminal in downtown Milwaukee is being reduced to rubble in 1964, a year after passenger service ended. If only we could have found some way to keep what we had, we wouldn’t now need to build so much. An important lesson in life– it is better to create than it is to destroy.

Recent Correspondence

Jack Bejna writes:

Here’s the latest. The Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railway ordered 5 cars to be built by the G C Kuhlman Car Company in 1909, numbered 311-315. The wood siding extended down to cover the previously exposed side sill channel, enhancing the look of these classic beauties.

The final wooden car order was placed with the Jewett Car Company in 1914 for six cars numbered 316-321. Car 318 was unique, with the sides being steel up to the belt line, the only wood car built this way. In the 1920s cars 319-321 were upgraded with more powerful motors and thereafter they were used together and/or with trailers.

I don’t know how you manage to put out an interesting, informative post every month, so thanks again for your website and all of the interesting stories within.

And we, in turn, really enjoy seeing these wonderful pictures that you have managed to make look better than ever, using all your skills and hard work.

Larry Sakar writes:

Hi Dave,

I just returned from my 6500 mile Amtrak trip to San Francisco, LA & Portland. I took the Hiawatha from Milwaukee to Chicago and connected to #5 the California Zephyr. Spent 2 days in SFO then took train 710 the San Joaquin to Bakersfield where they bus you to LA. The bus takes I-5 for most of the 100 mile trip to LA. As we got close to LA we were coming into Glendale and looking to my right I saw the abandoned PE r.o.w. where it crossed Fletcher Dr. There’s a picture that has been reproduced numerous times of a 3 car train of PCC’s crossing the bridge over Fletcher Dr. I thought the abandoned North Shore Line r.o.w. here in Milwaukee was high up but the PE r.o.w. is twice as high. The LA Downtown Hotel where I stayed was a block away from what used to be the Subway Terminal Bldg. at 4th & Hill.

When I was leaving the next day I rode the Red Cap’s motorized vehicle to the platform from the Metropolitan lounge. the lounge which is exclusively for 1st Class (sleeping car) passengers is on the second floor of LAUPT (Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal). They travel down a ramp and in the process cross the light rail tracks. We had to stop at the crossing for the passage of a Gold Line train headed to Pasadena and Cucamonga. Bit by bit LA is rebuilding the PE at a cost of billions! So far lines to Long Beach, Pasadena and Santa Monica have been rebuilt. Light rail has become very big in LA.

Two days later on my way back to Portland Union Station my taxi was traveling eight alongside a Portland MAX light rail train. In SFO the F-Line streetcars to Fisherman’s Wharf were packed to the rafters. Articulated buses were operating in place of the JKLM & N light rail lines that run in the Market St. subway. The new cars that are replacing the present BREDA cars were being tested. Saw BART when the Zephyr stopped in Richmond, CA. I know they have new cars coming but they don’t appear to be there as yet. BART is experiencing a significant increase in crime on its lines. Same holds true for Portland. In fact the Portland city council voted to ban anyone convicted of a serious crime on any of its light rail lines, buses or the Portland streetcar for life.

Coming home from Portland on the Portland section of the Empire Builder we heard that the previous day’s train was hit at a crossing (don’t know where) by a water truck. The 24 year old driver smashed thru the crossing gates and slammed into the second Genesis engine destroying it, the baggage car and part of the Superliner crew car behind it. No one was injured, luckily. The cause of the accident was the truck driver texting on his cell phone and not paying attention to driving. He’ll have lots of time to text now as I’m sure he’ll be fired. He’ll lose his CDL (Commercial Drivers License) and I’m sure the trucking company’s insurance carrier will be suing him for the damages they have to pay to Amtrak.

The day I was heading up the California coast from LA to Portland our train was held for almost an hour at LA for late connecting San Diego to LA (Pacific Surfliner) train 763 which is a guaranteed connection to #14. The train hit and killed some guy who was walking on the tracks north of San Diego and south of San Juan Capistrano.

It was a great trip and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Thanks for sharing!

FYI, Larry Sakar comments:

Hi Dave,

Fantastic posts! Those poor CA&E cars died a slow death rotting away in Wheaton yards until everything was finally scrapped in 1961.

I enjoyed the aerial shots of Canal St. station on the Metropolitan “L” (CTA). It’s not a station that seems to have been photographed a lot but there is a giant wall-sized shot of it on display in the Clinton St. CTA blue line subway station which replaced it. In the days of the “Met” there was a passageway from the south end of Union Station to the “L”. It’s still there and I understand it leads to the present day parking garage south of the station.

In the caption for that shot of the 2 car train of 4000’s on the Lake St. “L”, I don’t think the Lake St. “L” goes to Forest Park. The Green Line as it’s known today ends in Oak Park unless it’s been extended.

Looking at that North Shore Line city car photo I’d guess that is somewhere in Waukegan – Merchant’s curve perhaps? The only place in Milwaukee that had that kind of a curve was where the NSL went between 5th & 6th Sts. None of the buildings in this photo seem to match the ones that were along that curve. The curve was reconstructed after the NSL quit and is now the way you get on to southbound I-94 at Greenfield Ave. The factory building seen in so many of the photos of NSL trains on that curve still stands. Some sort of auto repair facility has been built in front of it. I just rode over that curve last Saturday in the taxi that was taking me home from the Milwaukee Intermodal station downtown. Here’s a Bob Genack photo I have showing that curve. Larry Sakar

Thanks… actually, the Lake Street “L” ground-level operation did cross Harlem Avenue into Forest Park, and there was actually a station there a short distance west which was technically the end of the line.  But few people got on there, the great majority using Marion Street instead.  The Harlem station on the embankment has entrances at Marion and on the west side of Harlem, and thus serves both Oak Park and Forest Park.

An Early History of the Railroad Record Club

Kenneth Gear and I have some new theories about the early history of the Railroad Record Club. This is based on careful study of the new material featured in our recent post Railroad Record Club Treasure Hunt (July 30, 2017).

One of the homemade 78 rpm records Ken recently bought was marked as having William A. Steventon‘s first recordings. These were dated March 24, 1953.

In a 1958 newspaper interview, Steventon said his wife had given him a tape recorder for Christmas in 1953. He probably meant to say 1952, and it took him a few months to get used to operating it.

Steventon always said that the club started in 1953. However, this seemed odd since he did not issue his first 10″ 33 1/3 rpm records until some years later. The 36 numbered discs came out at the rate of four per year from 1958 through 1966.

There was an Introductory Record, which was probably issued in 1957, and a few “special” releases, the most notable of which (SP-4) documents an entire 1962 trip of the South South Shore Line in real time on three 12″ discs as a box set. That was Steventon’s masterpiece.

In 1967, RCA Custom Records closed up shop, and it was not until some years later that Steventon began reissuing some of his recordings on 12″, using a different pressing plant in Nashville. But what was the Railroad Record Club doing from 1953 through 56?

Apparently, during those years, Steventon was distributing 78 rpm records made using a portable disc cutter. These had been available for home use starting in about 1929, and were often used to record things off the radio.

A few enterprising individuals like the late Jerry Newman took such machines to jazz clubs. This is how he made several recordings of Charlie Christian jamming at Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem in 1941.

In similar fashion, a portable disc cutter was used to record Duke Ellington and his Orchestra in Fargo, North Dakota in 1940. You can read about that here.

While Steventon was using a tape recorder, made portable by being hooked up to an auto battery, tape was not yet an effective way to distribute recordings in 1953. Very few people had such machines.

But most people did have record players, and the standard format of the time was 78 rpm, which yielded at most five minutes per side on 10″ aluminum discs covered with acetate. “Long Playing” 33 1/3 rpm records were a new format, just beginning to gain popularity.

No doubt Steventon dated the RRC’s beginnings to 1953, since that is when he began making recordings, but it is alsolikely that is when he started distributing them. Using a homemade disc cutter meant the records were made in real time. As things gained in popularity, this would have taken up more and more of his time.

To distill much longer recordings to fit the five minute limit, Steventon spliced together all sorts of bits and pieces, and recorded brief introductions later, to tell listeners what they were about to hear.

Some of the homemade discs that Ken purchased have numbers on them. Others have stamped titles, which would indicate to me that Steventon was making them in quantity, and had rubber stamps made for the most popular titles.

These early records were distributed using a number sequence that is totally different than the later one adopted for the 10″ records issued in 1958 or later. Here is a partial list of these early releases:

01. Potomac Edison (aka Hagerstown & Frederick)
02. Shenandoah Central
03. Capital Transit
04. Johnstown Traction
05. Altoona & Logan Valley
06. Baltimore & Ohio
07. Shaker Heights Rapid Transit
08. Claude Mahoney Radio Program about NRHS fantrip (1953)
09. Pennsylvania Railroad
10. Nickel Plate Road
11. St. Louis Public Service
15. Baltimore Transit
16. Norfolk & Western
17. Western Maryland Railway
22. East Broad Top
24. Chicago & Illinois Midland

In this period (1953-55), Steventon was living in Washington, D.C., so many of his recordings were made in that area. He was originally from Mount Carmel, Illinois, which is near the Indiana border. That explains his Hoosier accent as heard on his introductions.

Over time, Steventon branched out, making recordings in other cities when he was on vacation. Regarding his traction recordings, he generally preferred to tape the older equipment, since these made all the right noises. It was more difficult to make successful recordings of PCC cars, since they were much quieter by design, but he did do some.

The success of these records surely inspired Steventon to have records made in quantity by a pressing plant, the RCA Custom Records Division. By 1957, the 33 1/3 rpm format had become the norm, and this permitted about 15 minutes per side on a 10″ record. The resulting disc could hold as much sound as three of the 78s, and weighed a lot less, saving on postage.

Eventually, Steventon began including detailed liner notes with his records, and largely abandoned the spoken introductions.

The 1958 newspaper article mentioned above said that Steventon had sold 1000 records in the previous year. Without his previous experience with homemade records, it is unlikely that Steventon would have records pressed commercially.

We have now cleaned up and digitized many of these early recordings, which are now available under the title Railroad Record Club Rarities. The Traction recordings fill two discs, and the Steam and Diesel tracks are on a single disc. More details are below.

Sometimes, in the absence of written records, or spoken introductions, it is only possible to identify certain recordings through a bit of detective work. As an example, on one recording, the only clues we have are Steventon’s brief mention of riding cars 80 and 83.

This narrows down considerably the list of possible locations. The most likely is the Philadelphia Suburban Transporation Company, also known as the Red Arrow Lines. Cars 80 and 83, which fortunately have survived, were 1932 Brill-built “Master Units.”

We know that Steventon made recordings of similar cars. On one of the Altoona discs, he even refers to an Osgood Bradley Electromobile at one point as a “Master Unit.”

Car 80 still runs to this day at the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton, PA., so there are YouTube recordings that I compared with this one. They sound very much the same.

Finally, the Steventon recording shows cars 80 and 83 running at speed, frequently blowing the horn, very much in interurban mode. The longest Red Arrow route, and the most interurban in character, was the West Chester line, which was largely side-of-the-road operation along West Chester Pike.

The final trolley trips on West Chester took place on June 6, 1954. We have written about this before– see Red Arrow in West Chester, September 13, 2016. Buses replaced trolleys so that West chester Pike could be widened.

The National Railway Historical Society held a fantrip after the last revenue runs were made. We know that Steventon participated in NRHS events, since one of the 78 rpm records he distributed features a radio program that discusses a 1953 NRHS excursion.

So, the most logical conclusion is that this rare recording was made by Steventon in 1953 or 1954, and documents the Red Arrow line to West Chester. This recording is included on Railroad Record Club Rarities – Traction.

While we are happy to report that we have finally achieved our long-sought goal of digitizing the Railroad Record Club’s later output, it seems very likely there are still more of these early recordings waiting to be discovered.

-David Sadowski

Now Available on Compact Disc

RRC-RT
Railroad Record Club Rarities – Traction!
# of Discs – 2
Price: $19.95

Railroad Record Club Rarities – Traction!
These are rare recordings, which date to 1953-55 and predate the 10″ LPs later issued by the Railroad Record Club. Many are previously unissued, and some are available here in a different (and longer) format than later releases, often including William A. Steventon’s spoken introductions. We have used the best available sources, and while some recordings sound excellent, others have some imperfections. But all are rare, rare, rare!

Includes Altoona & Logan Valley, Baltimore Transit, Capital Transit (Washington D.C.), Johnstown Traction, Pennsylvania GG-1s, Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick), Red Arrow, St. Louis Public Service, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, and South Shore Line Electric Freight.

Total time – 149:52


RRC-RSD
Railroad Record Club Rarities – Steam and Diesel!
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.95

Railroad Record Club Rarities – Steam and Diesel
These are rare recordings, made by William A. Steventon between 1953 and 1955, and include his earliest recordings. These predate the regular output of the Railroad Record Club. Many are previously unissued, and some are available here in a different (and longer) format than later releases, often including William A. Steventon’s spoken introductions. In general, audio quality is good, but some recordings have imperfections. However, the best available sources have been used, and you won’t find them anywhere else. Much of this material has not been heard in over 60 years.

Includes: Baltimore & Ohio, Chicago & Illinois Midland, East Broad Top, Illinois Central, Nickel Plate road, Pennsylvania Railroad, Shenadoah Central, and even a 1953 radio broadcast by Claude Mahoney that discusses an NRHS fantrip.

Total time – 69:36


RRC #22 and 31
Buffalo Creek & Gauley
Sound Scrapbook – Steam!
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.95

Railroad Record Club #22 and 31:

The Buffalo Creek and Gauley Railroad (BC&G) was a railroad chartered on April 1, 1904 and ran along Buffalo Creek in Clay County, West Virginia. The original Buffalo Creek and Gauley ended service in 1965.

The BC&G was one of the last all-steam railroads, never operating a diesel locomotive to the day it shut down in 1965. Its primary purpose was to bring coal out of the mountains above Widen to an interchange with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad at Dundon. These recordings were made in 1960.

Sound Scrapbook – Steam! covers several different steam railroads, including Canadian National, National Railways of Mexico, McCloud River Railway, Union Pacific, Southern Pacific, Westside Lumber Company, Duluth Missabe & Iron Range, and Pickering Lumber Corp.

Total time – 62:43


RRC #32, Sampler for Years 3 & 4, and Steam Whistles and Bells
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.95

RRC #32, Sampler for Years 3 & 4, and Steam Whistles and Bells
This disc features the New York Central, recorded in 1954-55. It’s mainly steam, but with some diesel. In addition, the Railroad Record Club Sampler for years 3 and 4 includes selections from discs 9 through 16. Finally, we have included a very rare circa 1955 recording, Steam Whistles and Bells, which covers several properties across the country.

Total time – 72:07


Pre-Order Our New Book Chicago Trolleys

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

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

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

Overview

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

The book features 226 classic black-and-white images, each with detailed captions, in 10 chapters:

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

Product Details

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

Meet the Author

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

Images of Rail

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

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

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

We appreciate your business!

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NEW – Chicago Trolleys Postcard Collection

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

The Postcards of America Series

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

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

Pre-Order your Chicago Trolleys Postcard Pack today!

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