Borrowed Time

This January 1960 view, looking northeast, shows the temporary Central Avenue side platform station during construction of the Congress expressway. The CTA Congress median line had opened as far west as Cicero Avenue in June 1958, but farther west, used a series of temporary ground level alignments while highway work continue. The temporary station here was in use from October 1959 until October 1960, when the permanent center platform station opened. You can see a stairway for the new platform, built into the concrete wall of the Central Avenue underpass. The side platforms allowed for simultaneous construction of the new station. The expressway originally ended at Laramie Avenue (5200 W.), but was extended to Central (5600 W. ) in early 1960, and finally opened to Oak Park, Forest Park, and Maywood in October 1960. Newly delivered single car unit 22 heads up this westbound Congress-Milwaukee "A" train. East of here, the tracks curve off to go into the Lotus Tunnel, taking the line into the expressway median. Ultimately, this station did not develop much ridership, and closed in 1973, although it is still extant. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)

This January 1960 view, looking northeast, shows the temporary Central Avenue side platform station during construction of the Congress expressway. The CTA Congress median line had opened as far west as Cicero Avenue in June 1958, but farther west, used a series of temporary ground level alignments while highway work continue. The temporary station here was in use from October 1959 until October 1960, when the permanent center platform station opened. You can see a stairway for the new platform, built into the concrete wall of the Central Avenue underpass. The side platforms allowed for simultaneous construction of the new station. The expressway originally ended at Laramie Avenue (5200 W.), but was extended to Central (5600 W. ) in early 1960, and finally opened to Oak Park, Forest Park, and Maywood in October 1960. Newly delivered single car unit 22 heads up this westbound Congress-Milwaukee “A” train. East of here, the tracks curve off to go into the Lotus Tunnel, taking the line into the expressway median. Ultimately, this station did not develop much ridership, and closed in 1973, although it is still extant. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)

I was thinking about the expression “living on borrowed time” recently. I guess all of us are doing that, in a sense, but it occurred to me that when we look at old photographs, they can transport us back into the past. It’s almost as if by looking at them, we can borrow back some of the past.

Here are lots of photos that do just that. We also have some pictures from our recent trip to the East Troy Railroad Museum in Wisconsin. This was our first chance to see North Shore Line car 761 since it was restored by the museum.

I can’t say enough good things about the museum and its volunteers. We were treated to a tour of the barn where 761 and several other cars are stored. Even better, we ran into the Heinlein family who just happened to be there that day.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks. And thanks for lending us some of your time.

-David Sadowski

PS- You might also like our Trolley Dodger Facebook auxiliary, a private group that now has 835 members.

Our friend Kenneth Gear now has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.

Work on our North Shore Line book is ongoing. Donations are needed in order to bring this to a successful conclusion. You will find donation links at the top and bottom of each post. We thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

Recent Finds

New York Central loco 5287, a 4-6-4, heads south at Roosevelt Road on August 24, 1954. (David R. Sweetland Photo)

New York Central loco 5287, a 4-6-4, heads south at Roosevelt Road on August 24, 1954. (David R. Sweetland Photo)

I recently purchased this "real photo postcard," and the seller said this was the Harvard station on the Englewood branch of the "L". However, closer inspection of the photo shows that this is actually the Princeton station, which opened in 1905, and closed in 1949 as part of the CTA's restructuring of north-south service.

I recently purchased this “real photo postcard,” and the seller said this was the Harvard station on the Englewood branch of the “L”. However, closer inspection of the photo shows that this is actually the Princeton station, which opened in 1905, and closed in 1949 as part of the CTA’s restructuring of north-south service.

Electroliner 803-804 at Red Arrow's 69th Street Shops on November 10, 1963, shortly after arriving from Chicago. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)

Electroliner 803-804 at Red Arrow’s 69th Street Shops on November 10, 1963, shortly after arriving from Chicago. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)

Liberty Liner "Valley Forge," formerly North Shore Line Electroliner 801-802, being put into service on Red Arrow's Norristown line on January 26, 1964. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)

Liberty Liner “Valley Forge,” formerly North Shore Line Electroliner 801-802, being put into service on Red Arrow’s Norristown line on January 26, 1964. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)

SEPTA Liberty Liner "Valley Forge" crosses the Schuylkill River in September 1976, near the end of service on the Red Arrow line to Norristown. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)

SEPTA Liberty Liner “Valley Forge” crosses the Schuylkill River in September 1976, near the end of service on the Red Arrow line to Norristown. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)

Liberty Liner "Valley Forge," formerly North Shore Line Electroliner 801-802, just after delivery to the Illinois Railway Museum on May 9, 1982. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)

Liberty Liner “Valley Forge,” formerly North Shore Line Electroliner 801-802, just after delivery to the Illinois Railway Museum on May 9, 1982. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)

Liberty Liner "Valley Forge," aka Electroliner 801-802, at the Illinois Railway Museum on October 2, 1982. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)

Liberty Liner “Valley Forge,” aka Electroliner 801-802, at the Illinois Railway Museum on October 2, 1982. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)

North Shore Line wood car 134 is on a siding, and may be possibly be in New Trier school tripper service on the Shore Line Route, before the late 1930s Winnetka Grade Separation project. Don's Rail Photos: "134 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1907 as C&ME 134. It was rebuilt in 1914 retired in 1948. In 1936, the CA&E leased 11 surplus cars from the CNS&M. These cars were modified for service by raising the coupler height, installing electric heat instead of the coal-fired hot water heaters, modifying the control, and adding jumper receptacles and other minor fittings to allow them to train with the other CA&E cars. Since these were 50 mile per hour cars, and the CA&E cars were 60 MPH cars, they were soon operated only in trains of their own kind rather than mixed in with other cars. In 1945 they were returned to the North Shore where they operated briefly. They were purchased in 1946 and last ran in regular service in September, 1953."

North Shore Line wood car 134 is on a siding, and may be possibly be in New Trier school tripper service on the Shore Line Route, before the late 1930s Winnetka Grade Separation project. Don’s Rail Photos: “134 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1907 as C&ME 134. It was rebuilt in 1914 retired in 1948. In 1936, the CA&E leased 11 surplus cars from the CNS&M. These cars were modified for service by raising the coupler height, installing electric heat instead of the coal-fired hot water heaters, modifying the control, and adding jumper receptacles and other minor fittings to allow them to train with the other CA&E cars. Since these were 50 mile per hour cars, and the CA&E cars were 60 MPH cars, they were soon operated only in trains of their own kind rather than mixed in with other cars. In 1945 they were returned to the North Shore where they operated briefly. They were purchased in 1946 and last ran in regular service in September, 1953.”

CTA gate car 390. Don's Rail Photos: "390 was built by American Car & Foundry Co in 1905 as SSRT 390. It became CERy 390 in 1913 and became CRT 390 in 1923. It was retired on June 20, 1957." Andre Kristopans: "390 I think is at North/Halsted. At first thought Sedgwick, but background does not match."

CTA gate car 390. Don’s Rail Photos: “390 was built by American Car & Foundry Co in 1905 as SSRT 390. It became CERy 390 in 1913 and became CRT 390 in 1923. It was retired on June 20, 1957.” Andre Kristopans: “390 I think is at North/Halsted. At first thought Sedgwick, but background does not match.”

On March 29, 1943, the first official Chicago Rapid Transit Company train heads into the north portal of the new State Street Subway, then still under construction. Only one track was in service, and the south portal was still being built. Test rides were being given to servicemen and war bond buyers. The official opening was on October 17th.

On March 29, 1943, the first official Chicago Rapid Transit Company train heads into the north portal of the new State Street Subway, then still under construction. Only one track was in service, and the south portal was still being built. Test rides were being given to servicemen and war bond buyers. The official opening was on October 17th.

Shaker Heights Rapid Transit car 302, formerly of the Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric, is inbound at Woodhill Road on September 6, 1951. Don's Rail Photos: "302 was built by St Louis Car in 1924, #1308. In 1936 it was sold to CI/SHRT as 302 and in 1954 it was sold to Gerald Brookins for the Columbia Park & Southwestern aka Trolleyville." Sounds like it was scrapped there for parts.

Shaker Heights Rapid Transit car 302, formerly of the Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric, is inbound at Woodhill Road on September 6, 1951. Don’s Rail Photos: “302 was built by St Louis Car in 1924, #1308. In 1936 it was sold to CI/SHRT as 302 and in 1954 it was sold to Gerald Brookins for the Columbia Park & Southwestern aka Trolleyville.” Sounds like it was scrapped there for parts.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at the Illinois Railway Museum in September 1972.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at the Illinois Railway Museum in September 1972.

The conventional view of the North Shore Line station in Lake Forest.

The conventional view of the North Shore Line station in Lake Forest.

A different view of the large North Shore Line station in Lake Forest that served the Shore Line Route. This can't be later than 1916, as the railroad is identified by its previous name, the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric. The station survived the 1955 Shore Line abandonment, but was torn down around 1970.

A different view of the large North Shore Line station in Lake Forest that served the Shore Line Route. This can’t be later than 1916, as the railroad is identified by its previous name, the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric. The station survived the 1955 Shore Line abandonment, but was torn down around 1970.

I believe we are looking north at the Chicago and North Western commuter train station in Highland Park. If so, the North Shore Line's tracks for the Shore Line Route would be at right in the adjacent street. Apparently the station footprint here did not allow for sufficient space to locate the NSL tracks on private right-of-way.

I believe we are looking north at the Chicago and North Western commuter train station in Highland Park. If so, the North Shore Line’s tracks for the Shore Line Route would be at right in the adjacent street. Apparently the station footprint here did not allow for sufficient space to locate the NSL tracks on private right-of-way.

Another view of the C&NW Highland Park station, again looking north with the NSL Shore Line tracks in the street at right.

Another view of the C&NW Highland Park station, again looking north with the NSL Shore Line tracks in the street at right.

The entrance to Ravinia Park around 1915. It was built by the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric to help generate more ridership.

The entrance to Ravinia Park around 1915. It was built by the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric to help generate more ridership.

This shows the wooden "L" ramp under construction for the CTA's Garfield Park temporary trackage that ran east of here in Van Buren Street during construction of the Congress expressway. You can see where the temporary structure was going to turn and head south, to rejoin the existing Garfield Park "L" near Sacramento Boulevard. The new alignment was used starting in September 1953, so this is some time before then. (Henryk Shafer Photo)

This shows the wooden “L” ramp under construction for the CTA’s Garfield Park temporary trackage that ran east of here in Van Buren Street during construction of the Congress expressway. You can see where the temporary structure was going to turn and head south, to rejoin the existing Garfield Park “L” near Sacramento Boulevard. The new alignment was used starting in September 1953, so this is some time before then. (Henryk Shafer Photo)

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow) cars 77 and 8 in Media, PA on April 25, 1954. Brilliner 8 is still in its original 1941 paint scheme. (Russell E. Jackson Photo)

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow) cars 77 and 8 in Media, PA on April 25, 1954. Brilliner 8 is still in its original 1941 paint scheme. (Russell E. Jackson Photo)

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow) car 83 on the West Chester line in 1954. Buses replaced trolleys on this long route the same year, as part of a highway widening project. Don's Rail Photos: "83 was built by Brill Car Co in March 1932, #22980. It became SEPTA 83 in 1970 and sold to Middletown & Hummelstown in 1982." The M&H actually purchased car 86 in 1982, which was found to have some damage. So car 83 was renumbered as 86 by SEPTA and sold to them that way. The original car 86 also went along and was scrapped for parts. M&H is a diesel-powered tourist operation and the Red Arrow car is in storage there.

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow) car 83 on the West Chester line in 1954. Buses replaced trolleys on this long route the same year, as part of a highway widening project. Don’s Rail Photos: “83 was built by Brill Car Co in March 1932, #22980. It became SEPTA 83 in 1970 and sold to Middletown & Hummelstown in 1982.” The M&H actually purchased car 86 in 1982, which was found to have some damage. So car 83 was renumbered as 86 by SEPTA and sold to them that way. The original car 86 also went along and was scrapped for parts. M&H is a diesel-powered tourist operation and the Red Arrow car is in storage there.

Laurel Line (Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad) cars 38, 114, and 35. I assume this is in Scranton, PA. Interurban passenger service quit on December 31, 1952.

Laurel Line (Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad) cars 38, 114, and 35. I assume this is in Scranton, PA. Interurban passenger service quit on December 31, 1952.

Laurel Line car 32.

Laurel Line car 32.

Laurel Line car 32.

Laurel Line car 32.

Laurel Line car 19 looks like it has seen better days.

Laurel Line car 19 looks like it has seen better days.

Laurel Line car 35.

Laurel Line car 35.

Laurel Line car 32.

Laurel Line car 32.

Another view of Laurel Line car 19.

Another view of Laurel Line car 19.

CTA single car units 41 and 42, equipped with trolley poles for use on the Evanston branch, are posed at Sedgwick on the Ravenswood line. The date may be June 26, 1960. Sunday fantrips were popular, when Ravenswood trains only went as far as Armitage, and the fans could have lengthy photo stops without interfering with regular service. North Shore Line trains were routed via the outer tracks at this time. (Richard J. Anderson Photo)

CTA single car units 41 and 42, equipped with trolley poles for use on the Evanston branch, are posed at Sedgwick on the Ravenswood line. The date may be June 26, 1960. Sunday fantrips were popular, when Ravenswood trains only went as far as Armitage, and the fans could have lengthy photo stops without interfering with regular service. North Shore Line trains were routed via the outer tracks at this time. (Richard J. Anderson Photo)

A CTA single car unit heads south just north of South Boulevard in Evanston on May 26, 1963.

A CTA single car unit heads south just north of South Boulevard in Evanston on May 26, 1963.

A train of 4000s at Armitage.

A train of 4000s at Armitage.

4000s at Wellington.

4000s at Wellington.

6000s at Wellington.

6000s at Wellington.

CTA 2041 at Hamlin on the Lake Street "L", signed as a "B" train, sometime between 1964 and 1969.

CTA 2041 at Hamlin on the Lake Street “L”, signed as a “B” train, sometime between 1964 and 1969.

6000s at Wellington.

6000s at Wellington.

6000s at Wellington.

6000s at Wellington.

CTA single car unit #2 at the Skokie Swift terminal at Dempster, some time in the 1960s.

CTA single car unit #2 at the Skokie Swift terminal at Dempster, some time in the 1960s.

4000s at Wellington.

4000s at Wellington.

Brooklyn and Queens Transit PCC 1070 is at Park Circle on November 11, 1955, running on the 68-C 1 Ave line.

Brooklyn and Queens Transit PCC 1070 is at Park Circle on November 11, 1955, running on the 68-C 1 Ave line.

Brooklyn and Queens Transit PCC 1001 is at the Bristol Street loop on line 35 - Church on May 30, 1956. The auto at right is in the "bathtub" style that was briefly popular around 1950.

Brooklyn and Queens Transit PCC 1001 is at the Bristol Street loop on line 35 – Church on May 30, 1956. The auto at right is in the “bathtub” style that was briefly popular around 1950.

Brooklyn and Queens Transit PCC 1031 in May 30, 1956. This is a Church Avenue car entering the underpass at Ocean Parkway.

Brooklyn and Queens Transit PCC 1031 in May 30, 1956. This is a Church Avenue car entering the underpass at Ocean Parkway.

Chicago Surface Lines work car S-53 on October 21, 1940. Don's Rail Photos: "S53, supply car, was built by Chicago Railways in 1909 as 10. It was renumbered S53 in 1913 and became CSL S53 in 1914. It was retired on November 25, 1949."

Chicago Surface Lines work car S-53 on October 21, 1940. Don’s Rail Photos: “S53, supply car, was built by Chicago Railways in 1909 as 10. It was renumbered S53 in 1913 and became CSL S53 in 1914. It was retired on November 25, 1949.”

Chicago Transit Authority snow plow S-319 (ex-3146) at Skokie Shops in April 1955. Don's Rail Photos: "3146 was built by St. Louis Car in 1901 as Lake Street Elevated RR 146. It was renumbered 3146 in 1913 and became CRT 3146 in 1923." Not sure when it was converted into a work car.

Chicago Transit Authority snow plow S-319 (ex-3146) at Skokie Shops in April 1955. Don’s Rail Photos: “3146 was built by St. Louis Car in 1901 as Lake Street Elevated RR 146. It was renumbered 3146 in 1913 and became CRT 3146 in 1923.” Not sure when it was converted into a work car.

North Shore Line city streetcar 357 is in Waukegan in 1946, signed for the Naval Station. Streetcar service ended the following year. Don's Rail Photos: "357 was built by St Louis Car Co in January 1928, #1453. It was retired in 1948 and scrapped in 1950. The last city cars purchased new by the North Shore were cars 351 thru 360. They came from St. Louis Car in 1927 and 1928 and were designed to operate as one or two man cars. 351 thru 358 went to Milwaukee, and 359 and 360 went to Waukegan. In 1942, 353 thru 358 were sent to Waukegan for wartime service. It is said that 351 and 352 were also sent to Waukegan, but if so, their stay was short. In 1947, with the abandonment of the Waukegan lines, the entire group was sent to Milwaukee to replace the Birneys. They ran until abandonment on August 12, 1951."

North Shore Line city streetcar 357 is in Waukegan in 1946, signed for the Naval Station. Streetcar service ended the following year. Don’s Rail Photos: “357 was built by St Louis Car Co in January 1928, #1453. It was retired in 1948 and scrapped in 1950. The last city cars purchased new by the North Shore were cars 351 thru 360. They came from St. Louis Car in 1927 and 1928 and were designed to operate as one or two man cars. 351 thru 358 went to Milwaukee, and 359 and 360 went to Waukegan. In 1942, 353 thru 358 were sent to Waukegan for wartime service. It is said that 351 and 352 were also sent to Waukegan, but if so, their stay was short. In 1947, with the abandonment of the Waukegan lines, the entire group was sent to Milwaukee to replace the Birneys. They ran until abandonment on August 12, 1951.”

NSL loco 458 at the Pettibone Yard in North Chicago on July 16, 1960. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)

NSL loco 458 at the Pettibone Yard in North Chicago on July 16, 1960. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)

A North Shore Line freight train, headed by loco 456, at North Chicago Junction on March 2, 1946. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)

A North Shore Line freight train, headed by loco 456, at North Chicago Junction on March 2, 1946. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)

The North Shore Line headquarters in Highwood, IL. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)

The North Shore Line headquarters in Highwood, IL. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)

NSL Silverliner756 at Highwood on April 15, 1950. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)

NSL Silverliner756 at Highwood on April 15, 1950. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)

A three-car North Shore Line train on the "L". (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)

A three-car North Shore Line train on the “L”. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)

NSL 411 at Highwood on June 12, 1949. Don's Rail Photos: "411 was built as a trailer observation car by Cincinnati Car in June 1923 #2640. It was out of service in 1932. It was rebuilt on February 25, 1943 as a two motor coach by closing in the open platform and changing the seating, and was sold to Trolley Museum of New York in 1963. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway & Historical Society in 1973 and sold to the Escanaba & Lake Superior in 1989." (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)

NSL 411 at Highwood on June 12, 1949. Don’s Rail Photos: “411 was built as a trailer observation car by Cincinnati Car in June 1923 #2640. It was out of service in 1932. It was rebuilt on February 25, 1943 as a two motor coach by closing in the open platform and changing the seating, and was sold to Trolley Museum of New York in 1963. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway & Historical Society in 1973 and sold to the Escanaba & Lake Superior in 1989.” (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)

A four-car NSL train on Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette on February 11, 1939. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)

A four-car NSL train on Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette on February 11, 1939. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)

We have several pictures from this fantrip, which covered the Shore Line Route and then continued north to Milwaukee. I bought this, as I thought it might shed some light on the photo stops. But this "timetable" only gives the starting time of the trip. It does list points of interest, route mileage, safety rules, and has a complete roster of the equipment as of late 1954... including which 15 cars had already been converted to Silverliners by that time. (I think the total had reached 30 by 1963.)

We have several pictures from this fantrip, which covered the Shore Line Route and then continued north to Milwaukee. I bought this, as I thought it might shed some light on the photo stops. But this “timetable” only gives the starting time of the trip. It does list points of interest, route mileage, safety rules, and has a complete roster of the equipment as of late 1954… including which 15 cars had already been converted to Silverliners by that time. (I think the total had reached 30 by 1963.)

Original 1920s artwork for four North Shore Line posters... in the collection of David A. Myers, who bought them when the railroad was going out of business in 1963.

Original 1920s artwork for four North Shore Line posters… in the collection of David A. Myers, who bought them when the railroad was going out of business in 1963.

The North Shore Line Mundelein Terminal in December 1962.

The North Shore Line Mundelein Terminal in December 1962.

The same location today, looking east. The old terminal was located just to the right of that telephone pole. You can see where the old right-of-way was in that clearing at rear.

The same location today, looking east. The old terminal was located just to the right of that telephone pole. You can see where the old right-of-way was in that clearing at rear.

A North Shore Line train heads north at North Chicago Junction in June 1961. The tracks at left led to the old Shore Line Route. After the 1955 abandonment, one track was kept in service to connect with the headquarters at Highwood (and also for freight use). (William Shapotkin Collection)

A North Shore Line train heads north at North Chicago Junction in June 1961. The tracks at left led to the old Shore Line Route. After the 1955 abandonment, one track was kept in service to connect with the headquarters at Highwood (and also for freight use). (William Shapotkin Collection)

The late William C. Hoffman took this picture of an Electroliner menu on November 12, 1962.

The late William C. Hoffman took this picture of an Electroliner menu on November 12, 1962.

The East Troy Railroad Museum

Milwaukee streetcar 846 at East Troy. Don's Rail Photos: "846 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1920, #1239. It was one-manned in 1925 and was donated to the Kentucky Railway Museum in 1958. After two floods it went to the Appleton Trolley Museum in 1983. It was found to be severely damaged and was finally restored in 1998. In October 2002, the ATM merged with the East Troy Electric Railroad Museum and 846 was the first car moved."

Milwaukee streetcar 846 at East Troy. Don’s Rail Photos: “846 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1920, #1239. It was one-manned in 1925 and was donated to the Kentucky Railway Museum in 1958. After two floods it went to the Appleton Trolley Museum in 1983. It was found to be severely damaged and was finally restored in 1998. In October 2002, the ATM merged with the East Troy Electric Railroad Museum and 846 was the first car moved.”

South Shore Line car 24. Don's Rail Photos: "24 was built by Pullman in 1927. It was lengthened and air conditioned, and got picture windows in 1947." East Troy has turned it into a dining car.

South Shore Line car 24. Don’s Rail Photos: “24 was built by Pullman in 1927. It was lengthened and air conditioned, and got picture windows in 1947.” East Troy has turned it into a dining car.

South Shore Line car 33. Don's Rail Photos: "33 was built by Standard Car in 1929, #P-3340. It was air-conditioned and sold to National Park Service in 1983."

South Shore Line car 33. Don’s Rail Photos: “33 was built by Standard Car in 1929, #P-3340. It was air-conditioned and sold to National Park Service in 1983.”

These stickers were applied to South Shore Line cars in the mid-1970s and became a rallying cry against abandonment.

These stickers were applied to South Shore Line cars in the mid-1970s and became a rallying cry against abandonment.

South Shore Line car 9. Don's Rail Photos: "9 was built by Pullman in 1926."

South Shore Line car 9. Don’s Rail Photos: “9 was built by Pullman in 1926.”

South Shore Line car 13. Don's Rail Photos: "13 was built by Pullman in 1926 and was rebuilt in 1946."

South Shore Line car 13. Don’s Rail Photos: “13 was built by Pullman in 1926 and was rebuilt in 1946.”

CTA 4453. Don's Rail Photos: "4453 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1924, #2860. It was acquired by Indiana Transportation Museum in 1974 and sold to East Troy Electric Ry in 1995." George Trapp adds: "Enjoyed your latest post, but have a correction on the build dates for CRT/CTA 4420 and 4453 at East Troy. This order #2860 for cars 4356-4455 was placed in December of 1924 but the cars were actually built in 1925, being delivered in late summer, August and September. Car #4422 was photographed on September 4, 1925 by Cincinnati Car. The only cars built in 1924 were 4351-4355, order #2715 ordered in 1923 by Chicago Elevated prior to merger of January, 1924 of Northwestern, Metropolitan and South Side into CRT. Bankrupt Chicago & Oak Park purchased at foreclosure later in January, 1924."

CTA 4453. Don’s Rail Photos: “4453 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1924, #2860. It was acquired by Indiana Transportation Museum in 1974 and sold to East Troy Electric Ry in 1995.” George Trapp adds: “Enjoyed your latest post, but have a correction on the build dates for CRT/CTA 4420 and 4453 at East Troy. This order #2860 for cars 4356-4455 was placed in December of 1924 but the cars were actually built in 1925, being delivered in late summer, August and September. Car #4422 was photographed on September 4, 1925 by Cincinnati Car. The only cars built in 1924 were 4351-4355, order #2715 ordered in 1923 by Chicago Elevated prior to merger of January, 1924 of Northwestern, Metropolitan and South Side into CRT. Bankrupt Chicago & Oak Park purchased at foreclosure later in January, 1924.”

Sheboygan Light, Power and Railway Company car 26. Don's Rail Photos: "Sheboygan 26 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1908, #835. It was converted to one man operation. It later was used as a lake cabin for many years and was given full restoration to its original condition." This car was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.

Sheboygan Light, Power and Railway Company car 26. Don’s Rail Photos: “Sheboygan 26 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1908, #835. It was converted to one man operation. It later was used as a lake cabin for many years and was given full restoration to its original condition.” This car was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.

Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company locomotive L-9. Don's Rail Photos: "L9 was built at Cold Spring in 1944. It became WEPCo L9 in 1963 and was acquired by WERHS in 1979. It became East Troy Electric Ry L9 in 1989."

Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company locomotive L-9. Don’s Rail Photos: “L9 was built at Cold Spring in 1944. It became WEPCo L9 in 1963 and was acquired by WERHS in 1979. It became East Troy Electric Ry L9 in 1989.”

South Shore Line car 30. Don's Rail Photos: "30 was built by Standard Car in 1929, #P-3340. It was air conditioned and sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway Museum in 1984. It was sold to East Troy Electric Ry in 1984. It was later rebuilt without the humps and renumbered 1130."

South Shore Line car 30. Don’s Rail Photos: “30 was built by Standard Car in 1929, #P-3340. It was air conditioned and sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway Museum in 1984. It was sold to East Troy Electric Ry in 1984. It was later rebuilt without the humps and renumbered 1130.”

South Shore Line car 25. Don's Rail Photos: "25 was built by Pullman in 1927. It was lengthened and air conditioned, and got picture windows in 1947." East Troy has turned it into a dining car.

South Shore Line car 25. Don’s Rail Photos: “25 was built by Pullman in 1927. It was lengthened and air conditioned, and got picture windows in 1947.” East Troy has turned it into a dining car.

North Shore Line car 761 has recently been restored by East Troy and looks beautiful. Don's Rail Photos: "761 was built by Standard Steel Car Co in 1930. It was modernized in 1949 and rebuilt as a Silverliner in October 11, 1957." It has had a number of owners since 1963 but came to East Troy from the Michigan Transit Museum in 2001.

North Shore Line car 761 has recently been restored by East Troy and looks beautiful. Don’s Rail Photos: “761 was built by Standard Steel Car Co in 1930. It was modernized in 1949 and rebuilt as a Silverliner in October 11, 1957.” It has had a number of owners since 1963 but came to East Troy from the Michigan Transit Museum in 2001.

Watch your step. The car could board on either high-level or low-level platforms.

Watch your step. The car could board on either high-level or low-level platforms.

761's cab area.

761’s cab area.

This would have been the smoking compartment back in the day.

This would have been the smoking compartment back in the day.

The museum is justifiably proud of their restoration work.

The museum is justifiably proud of their restoration work.

The ticket booth at East Troy.

The ticket booth at East Troy.

Bob Heinlein and his brother at East Troy.

Bob Heinlein and his brother at East Troy.

Aboard 4420.

Aboard 4420.

CTA 4420 at the Elegant Farmer store in Mukwonago. Don's Rail Photos: "4420 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1924, #2860. It was acquired by Wisconsin Electric Historical Society on February 11, 1975, and sold to East Troy Electric Ry in 1988." George Trapp adds: "Enjoyed your latest post, but have a correction on the build dates for CRT/CTA 4420 and 4453 at East Troy. This order #2860 for cars 4356-4455 was placed in December of 1924 but the cars were actually built in 1925, being delivered in late summer, August and September. Car #4422 was photographed on September 4, 1925 by Cincinnati Car. The only cars built in 1924 were 4351-4355, order #2715 ordered in 1923 by Chicago Elevated prior to merger of January, 1924 of Northwestern, Metropolitan and South Side into CRT. Bankrupt Chicago & Oak Park purchased at foreclosure later in January, 1924."

CTA 4420 at the Elegant Farmer store in Mukwonago. Don’s Rail Photos: “4420 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1924, #2860. It was acquired by Wisconsin Electric Historical Society on February 11, 1975, and sold to East Troy Electric Ry in 1988.” George Trapp adds: “Enjoyed your latest post, but have a correction on the build dates for CRT/CTA 4420 and 4453 at East Troy. This order #2860 for cars 4356-4455 was placed in December of 1924 but the cars were actually built in 1925, being delivered in late summer, August and September. Car #4422 was photographed on September 4, 1925 by Cincinnati Car. The only cars built in 1924 were 4351-4355, order #2715 ordered in 1923 by Chicago Elevated prior to merger of January, 1924 of Northwestern, Metropolitan and South Side into CRT. Bankrupt Chicago & Oak Park purchased at foreclosure later in January, 1924.”

Recent Correspondence

We recently received these two photos from our good friend David Harrison:

CTA 3311 on June 19, 2006 charter, paying tribute to the 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox. (Bruce C. Nelson Photo, courtesy of David Harrison)

CTA 3311 on June 19, 2006 charter, paying tribute to the 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox. (Bruce C. Nelson Photo, courtesy of David Harrison)

David Harrison in his CTA uniform, near Loomis, in a photo taken by his mother. I couldn't quite make the processing date out on the slide-- it was either December '65 or '66, although this picture was obviously taken at a different time of the year.

David Harrison in his CTA uniform, near Loomis, in a photo taken by his mother. I couldn’t quite make the processing date out on the slide– it was either December ’65 or ’66, although this picture was obviously taken at a different time of the year.

North Shore Line Mystery Photo

If anyone knows who took this picture, taken at the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee Terminal, please let me know. I checked with the Center for Railroad Photography and Art, and it apparently was not taken by the late John E. Gruber, although it does look similar to his work.

Now Available:

SGA-1
Stan Griffith Audio Recordings of the North Shore Line
# of Discs – 1
Price: $15.99

The late Stanwood C. Griffith (1926-2013) was an interesting character who is probably best known for building the two-foot gauge Rock River Valley Traction, a miniature electric railway that is large enough to ride on. He began building it on private property in a mysterious wooded area somewhere near Rockford, IL around 1950. Work continues on it to this day, and there are several videos of it on YouTube.

We only recently found out that he recorded some North Shore Line audio. Even better, what he did record is different than the other known recordings by William A. Steventon and Brad Miller.

Mr. Griffith made the only known recordings of the Shore Line Route, which quit in 1955. Steventon didn’t record NSL until the following year, and the Miller recordings are circa 1960.

This recording has some occasional narration. At one point, Griffith notes that the trolley bus wires in Kenosha are gone. Trolley buses ran there until 1952, so this dates the recordings to circa 1952-55.

He also recorded North Shore Line street running in Milwaukee, which is also unique as far as I am aware. There are also recordings of Milwaukee streetcars on this CD.

Total time – 52:36


Chicago’s Lost “L”s Online Presentation

We recently gave an online presentation about our book Chicago’s Lost “L”s for the Chicago Public Library, as part of their One Book, One Chicago series. You can watch it online by following this link.

The Trolley Dodger On the Air

We appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio on July 16, 2021, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.

Our Latest Book, Now Available:

Chicago’s Lost “L”s

From the back cover:

Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.

The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages

Chapters:
01. The South Side “L”
02. The Lake Street “L”
03. The Metropolitan “L”
04. The Northwestern “L”
05. The Union Loop
06. Lost Equipment
07. Lost Interurbans
08. Lost Terminals
09. Lost… and Found

Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.

The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.

For Shipping to US Addresses:

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For Shipping Elsewhere:

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

This is our 289th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 879,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.
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DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.


Anniversaries

For fans of the North Shore Line interurban, January 21, 1963 will always be a day that will “live in infamy,” to borrow a phrase from Franklin D. Roosevelt, as that was the date of abandonment.

But January 21 is also the day we started this blog, four years ago. We can’t do anything to bring back the NSL, but we can honor its memory going forward, and a lot of other memories besides, in this space.

As far as we are concerned, every day is a day to celebrate the North Shore Line. But today, as we begin our fifth year, we are fortunate to have much NSL material to share. First, courtesy of Jim Huffman, we have nearly 60 images of North Shore Line posters. To these, we have added some additional classic photos from the collections of William Shapotkin.

To round things out, we have some recent photo finds of our own, plus some interesting correspondence from Jeff Marinoff.

Throughout its existence, the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee prided itself on SERVICE. In our own small way, we try to do the same for you and the railfan community.

-David Sadowski

Annual Fundraiser

Thanks to the generosity of our readers, we have already exceeded our goal of raising $436 by the end of this month. To date, we have received $725. We have tried to personally thank everyone who contributed. Unfortunately, a couple of e-mail addresses we were given, along with these donations, appear to be out of date, as our thank you messages were returned by the mail server. So, if you did not receive a thank you note from us, that is probably why, but we are still thankful nonetheless.

It is a fact of life that this blog has run at a deficit since it began. Our goal is to get it to a point where it can be self-sufficient. We lost at least $10k in each of our first two years, and $6k in our third year.

While we have not yet determined the amount of loss for last year, it is expected to have been less than $6k.

It costs real money to bring you many of these classic images. We have already paid our fees for the coming year, and additional donations in excess of that goal will be used to pay for more images that will show up in future posts.

On average, it probably costs about $10 for each image we purchase for this blog. So if you have 50 images in a post, that represents a $500 expenditure, and $1000 for 100 images. Now you can see the challenge, and how beneficial it is when individuals share their material with us.

We also hope to work on another book project this year. The costs of doing the necessary research on our first two volumes are far in excess of the revenue received. But it is possible these books will continue to sell over time, and in the long run, may also eventually reach a break-even point.

So, while we have now met our immediate goal, the need is ongoing throughout the year. Your generous contributions are always appreciated, in whatever amount you choose to give.

You will find links for donations at the end of this post.

Thanks.

North Shore Line Posters

Again, we thank Jim Huffman for sharing these with our readers. There are color variations for a few of the posters. Presumably, these went through more than one printing.

As you can see, many of these iconic posters have little, if anything, to do with actually riding on the North Shore Line. But they were tremendously successful in promoting the North Shore itself, its beauty, charm, and history, along with the idea of easy and convenient travel, resulting in a greater sense of freedom and ultimate satisfaction in life. Now, they are an important part of our history.

North Shore Line Photos

These are from the collections of William Shapotkin:

CNS&M 756 is at the rear of the 10:55 am train to Milwaukee, leaving Roosevelt Road station on November 7, 1962. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CNS&M 756 is at the rear of the 10:55 am train to Milwaukee, leaving Roosevelt Road station on November 7, 1962. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CNS&M Electroliner 802-801 at Roosevelt Road in Chicago on November 11, 1962. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CNS&M Electroliner 802-801 at Roosevelt Road in Chicago on November 11, 1962. (William Shapotkin Collection)

The Roosevelt Road/Holden Court station on the South Side "L". The view looks north. (William Shapotkin Collection)

The Roosevelt Road/Holden Court station on the South Side “L”. The view looks north. (William Shapotkin Collection)

North Shore Line cars are stored on the center track at the CTA's Roosevelt Road station on November 7, 1962. The view looks south. CNS&M had exclusive use of the station from 1949 to 1963, as rapid transit cars on North-South were routed through the State Street subway. The station was eventually removed, but since put back. (William Shapotkin Collection)

North Shore Line cars are stored on the center track at the CTA’s Roosevelt Road station on November 7, 1962. The view looks south. CNS&M had exclusive use of the station from 1949 to 1963, as rapid transit cars on North-South were routed through the State Street subway. The station was eventually removed, but since put back. (William Shapotkin Collection)

North Shore Line Electroliner 801-802 at Roosevelt Road in Chicago, 1962. (William Shapotkin Collection)

North Shore Line Electroliner 801-802 at Roosevelt Road in Chicago, 1962. (William Shapotkin Collection)

Recent Finds

CTA 6186 heads east over the Illinois Central right-of-way in the early 1950s, heading towards the Field Museum and Soldier Field. This extension of the Roosevelt Road streetcar line was built for A Century of Progress, the 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair.

CTA 6186 heads east over the Illinois Central right-of-way in the early 1950s, heading towards the Field Museum and Soldier Field. This extension of the Roosevelt Road streetcar line was built for A Century of Progress, the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair.

CTA 3173, at right, is a one-man car running on Route 38, as is the red car it is passing. At left is a Route 4 - Cottage Grove prewar PCC. We are looking south on Wabash Avenue, just north of the Chicago River, in the early 1950s.

CTA 3173, at right, is a one-man car running on Route 38, as is the red car it is passing. At left is a Route 4 – Cottage Grove prewar PCC. We are looking south on Wabash Avenue, just north of the Chicago River, in the early 1950s.

CTA 4180 heads southbound at State and 86th Streets in May 1952. (John D. Koschwanez Photo)

CTA 4180 heads southbound at State and 86th Streets in May 1952. (John D. Koschwanez Photo)

CTA 4164, a Pullman PCC, heads north on Clark Street circa 1948, ready to cross LaSalle Drive, which runs at an angle at this point. In the background, you can see the Chicago Historical Society (now Chicago History Museum) building. The Standard gas station at right is now a BP.

CTA 4164, a Pullman PCC, heads north on Clark Street circa 1948, ready to cross LaSalle Drive, which runs at an angle at this point. In the background, you can see the Chicago Historical Society (now Chicago History Museum) building. The Standard gas station at right is now a BP.

CTA 4111 heads south on Route 22 - Clark-Wentworth in this undated view. This image was restored from a badly faded Kodacolor print.

CTA 4111 heads south on Route 22 – Clark-Wentworth in this undated view. This image was restored from a badly faded Kodacolor print.

Chicago Surface Lines 7008, in "tiger stripes," is in the Madison-Austin loop, circa 1945-46. (Robert J. Mahar Photo)

Chicago Surface Lines 7008, in “tiger stripes,” is in the Madison-Austin loop, circa 1945-46. (Robert J. Mahar Photo)

Four generations of Chicago rapid transit cars, as they were posed in Forest Park on January 9, 1994-- cars 6102, 1992 (formerly 2008), 1, and 4271. After this, their fates diverged; car 1 is now at the Chicago History Museum, 1992 eventually went to the Illinois Railway Museum for parts scrapping, 4271 is still part of the CTA's Heritage Fleet, and 6102 was stored at the Fox River Trolley Museum for several years, before returning to CTA in 2017, where it will hopefully one day run again. (Bruce C. Nelson Photo)

Four generations of Chicago rapid transit cars, as they were posed in Forest Park on January 9, 1994– cars 6102, 1992 (formerly 2008), 1, and 4271. After this, their fates diverged; car 1 is now at the Chicago History Museum, 1992 eventually went to the Illinois Railway Museum for parts scrapping, 4271 is still part of the CTA’s Heritage Fleet, and 6102 was stored at the Fox River Trolley Museum for several years, before returning to CTA in 2017, where it will hopefully one day run again. (Bruce C. Nelson Photo)

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow Lines) car #17 is near West Chester on May 1, 1954. Much of this line was single track, running along the side of West Chester Pike.

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow Lines) car #17 is near West Chester on May 1, 1954. Much of this line was single track, running along the side of West Chester Pike.

Recent Correspondence

Jeff Marinoff writes:

Among the several post cards that I’ve added to my collection lately are two awesome Chicago Union Traction Company cards from 1906. Note that car # 4911 is pulling an open trailer. Also, if you zoom in on the rear of car # 4911, you’ll see on the opposite track in the distant background is another car pulling an open trailer car in the other direction.

Also of interest is the wooden roof sign on car # 4911. It reads N. CLARK STREET. The side roll sign on # 4911 reads CLARK – DEVON. The front roll sign reads CLARK ST . Possibly helping to identify the location is the address painted on the window of the building behind car # 4911 which looks like it says 4362. I wonder if this was 4362 North Clark Street. I’m being told that the scene showing # 4911 is in the area of the Devon Station car barn and near the intersection of Clark and Devon. In September 1909, the City of Chicago changed its street numbering system. In the c1906 post card photo, you see the street number 4362. That number was changed in 1909 to 6333 N. Clark, which is about a block south of Devon Avenue, which is 6400 North.

On the card that shows the Chicago Union Traction Company crews in 1906, note that one of the conductors has hung the round metal run number sign on his uniform jacket. A novel place to carry it to his assignment. This post card scene is said to be outside of the Devon Station car barn.

As usual, I am indebted to Walter Keevil for technical info on Chicago Union Traction Company car # 4911.

Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos, plus your research. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.

-David Sadowski

The Trolley Dodger On the Air

We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago last November, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.

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!

Bibliographic information:

Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages

Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960

Building Chicago’s Subways 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)

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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This is our 226th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 483,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.

A Long Time Gone

Chicago postwar PCC 7216 is shown heading south on Clark at Harrison on March 11, 1958. I was attracted to this shot since the woman and child who are about to board could just as well be me and my mother at that time. (Photo by A. Goddard)

Chicago postwar PCC 7216 is shown heading south on Clark at Harrison on March 11, 1958. I was attracted to this shot since the woman and child who are about to board could just as well be me and my mother at that time. (Photo by A. Goddard)

June 21st marks 60 years since the last Chicago streetcar ran. If you consider that 80 years is, perhaps, about an average lifespan, that means 3/4ths of such a time has now passed since that historic event.

The number of people still living who rode Chicago streetcars is dwindling, and is certainly only a small fraction of the current population. At age 63, I must be among the youngest people who can say they rode a Chicago streetcar on the streets of Chicago, much less remember it.

But the number of people who have taken a ride on a Chicago streetcar does increase, since there are a number of them that are operable at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. The Seashore Trolley Museum (Kennebunkport, ME) has another car (225) that is operated infrequently.

The experience of riding at a railway museum is, of necessity, somewhat different than what people experienced 60+ years ago on the streets of Chicago. However, as a “streetcar renaissance” is underway across the country in various cities, the number of track miles in city streets has been increasing. In those places, it is possible to experience something more like what Chicago once had.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin will soon join that list, just 90 miles north of Chicago. After a similar 60-year gap in streetcar service, their first new line, aka “The Hop,” is expected to begin service mid-November. (You can read our recent update here. Since our article appeared, the new cars have begun testing out on the streets.)

Interestingly, a heritage trolley recently began service in Rockford, Illinois, which is also about 90 miles from Chicago.

For the past 18 years, Kenosha, Wisconsin (about 65 miles from Chicago) has operated a tourist trolley, which you can even reach using Metra‘s Union Pacific North Line.

Perhaps the streetcar line that would offer a ride closest to what Chicagoans could once experience, however, is the SEPTA #15 Girard Avenue line in Philadelphia, which is operated with modernized PCC cars.

I can also recommend the Muni F-Market and Wharves line in San Francisco, which operates using a variety of historic equipment.

Anyway you look at it, this anniversary is a good excuse to feature some classic Chicago traction photos, which we hope you will enjoy.

But wait– there’s more!

June 22, 1958 is another important date in Chicago transit history. 60 years ago, a new CTA rapid transit line opened in the median of the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway. This line, also known as the “West Side Subway,” replaced the Garfield Park “L” and was the culmination of plans made 20 years before.

Another important anniversary is approaching on October 17th– the 75th anniversary of the opening of Chicago’s first subway. In December, it will be 80 years since subway construction began.

For these reasons, and more, we have written a new book called Building Chicago’s Subways, to be released by Arcadia Publishing this October 1st. Information about how to pre-order this book appears further down in this post.

The idea for Building Chicago’s Subways first came to me a few years ago, when I realized these important anniversaries were approaching. A few months after the publication of Chicago Trolleys last fall, I pitched the idea to Arcadia, and that is when the real work began.

Much additional research had to be done. I read everything I could find on the subject. Photos came from my own collections and those of other collectors, who have graciously permitted their use in this project.

Here is a short description of the book:

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!

The story goes back much further than that… before there were rapid transit tunnels, there were tunnels under the Chicago River, used by cable cars and streetcars. In the early 1900s, private enterprise built an extensive system of freight tunnels under the downtown area. And there was about 40 years of wrangling over what kind of subway to build, where to build it, and who should pay for it.

I found it a fascinating tale, and am gratified that I have been able to complete this new book in time for the anniversary, and within the living memory of Chicagoans who were here to witness these events 75 long years ago. The State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee and West Side Subways have changed life for everyday Chicagoans forever.

-David Sadowski

PS- The Chicago Transit Authority posted this excellent video showing the last run of car 7213 in the early morning hours of June 21, 1958 (the June 22 date in the video is not correct):

Jeffrey L. Wien and I, along with the late Bradley Criss, collaborated on the book Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, published in 2015 as Bulletin 146 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

For this anniversary, I asked Mr. Wien, who rode on the last Chicago streetcar, to reminisce for our readers:

Today, June 21, 2018, marks the 60th anniversary of my ride on the Last Chicago Streetcar with my high school friend Greer Nielsen. Thinking back 60 years I recall that it was a very melancholy event, one that remained in my mind for the rest of my life.

Thinking back 60 years can be a challenging task, but I do remember that it was a warm and muggy night on that last ride. CTA PCC 7213 was the last car on the shortened route 22 Wentworth line. The last run south from Clark and Kinzie began around 4am. There were probably at least 100 people crammed into that car so that they could say that they rode the Last Chicago Streetcar. As the car headed south through the Loop headed to 81st and Halsted, the group was quite loud and raucous, but as we went farther and farther south, the crowd quieted down, perhaps because we wanted to hear the sound of the streetcar in the streets of Chicago for the very last time.

When we arrived at 81st and Halsted, everyone got off the car for photos, private and official, and then reboarded the car for the last time for the short trip to Vincennes and 78th where the car pulled off of the street. It was about 6:15am by that point in time, and the Sun was just rising.

As the 7213 pulled away from Vincennes Avenue heading into the Rising Sun, we knew that we had witnessed an historic event in the history of Chicago. 99 years of traction history in Chicago ended at that moment. For me, it was a very sad moment for it was like losing a very good friend.

Jeff Wien

Chicago Area Recent Finds

Chicago's PCCs did not operate in multiple units, but you would be forgiven for thinking so from this photo. Car 4172 and a very close follower are heading south at Clark and Division circa 1950. Note there are not yet any advertising brackets on the sides of the PCCs. At right, there is an entrance to a CTA subway station, which is today part of the Red Line.

Chicago’s PCCs did not operate in multiple units, but you would be forgiven for thinking so from this photo. Car 4172 and a very close follower are heading south at Clark and Division circa 1950. Note there are not yet any advertising brackets on the sides of the PCCs. At right, there is an entrance to a CTA subway station, which is today part of the Red Line.

CTA PCC 4366, a Pullman, heads north on diversion trackage on Halsted at Congress in 1950. This was necessitated by construction of the bridge that would go over the Congress expressway (now the Eisenhower, I290). Bridges that crossed the highway were the first things built, since traffic could be routed around them. Once a bridge was finished, the area around it could be dug out.

CTA PCC 4366, a Pullman, heads north on diversion trackage on Halsted at Congress in 1950. This was necessitated by construction of the bridge that would go over the Congress expressway (now the Eisenhower, I290). Bridges that crossed the highway were the first things built, since traffic could be routed around them. Once a bridge was finished, the area around it could be dug out.

CTA PCC 7148, running northbound on Route 36 - Broadway, turns from Broadway onto westbound Devon in 1955, with the Howard line "L" in the background. The date written on this slide mount was 8-14-56, but the turning car has a 1955 Illinois license plate on it, so perhaps the correct date is 8-14-55. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA PCC 7148, running northbound on Route 36 – Broadway, turns from Broadway onto westbound Devon in 1955, with the Howard line “L” in the background. The date written on this slide mount is 8-14-56, but the turning car has a 1955 Illinois license plate on it, so perhaps the correct date is 8-14-55. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA Pullman-built PCC 4124 is eastbound on Route 20 - Madison at Cicero Avenue in 1953. The PCC is signed for Kedzie, so it is most likely a tripper, heading back to the barn. Streetcar service on the main portion of Madison ended on December 13, 1953.

CTA Pullman-built PCC 4124 is eastbound on Route 20 – Madison at Cicero Avenue in 1953. The PCC is signed for Kedzie, so it is most likely a tripper, heading back to the barn. Streetcar service on the main portion of Madison ended on December 13, 1953.

The same building as in the previous picture.

The same building as in the previous picture.

Rust never sleeps, as the saying goes, and that is evident in this picture of a Chicago Surface Lines (now CTA, but still sporting a CSL logo) electric loco as it looked in the 1950s. Behind it is one of the CSL trailers that were used during the 1920s, pulled along behind other streetcars. Once ridership dropped during the Great Depression, these were used for storage at various CSL yards.

Rust never sleeps, as the saying goes, and that is evident in this picture of a Chicago Surface Lines (now CTA, but still sporting a CSL logo) electric loco as it looked in the 1950s. Behind it is one of the CSL trailers that were used during the 1920s, pulled along behind other streetcars. Once ridership dropped during the Great Depression, these were used for storage at various CSL yards.

In August 1960, a four-car train of CTA 4000-series cars heads west on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L". Since it appears there are passengers waiting for a Chicago & North Western commuter train on the adjacent embankment, I would say it's possible the location is near Marion Street in suburban Oak Park. The outer 2.5 miles of the Lake route were relocated onto the embankment in October 1962.

In August 1960, a four-car train of CTA 4000-series cars heads west on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L”. Since it appears there are passengers waiting for a Chicago & North Western commuter train on the adjacent embankment, I would say it’s possible the location is near Marion Street in suburban Oak Park. The outer 2.5 miles of the Lake route were relocated onto the embankment in October 1962.

CTA 4295 heads up a train in Oak Park on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L" on August 7, 1954. (Photo by Mark D. Meyer)

CTA 4295 heads up a train in Oak Park on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L” on August 7, 1954. (Photo by Mark D. Meyer)

Two CTA 4000s go up the ramp on Lake Street, just west of Laramie, to rejoin the steel "L" structure east of here on November 30, 1952. (Robert Selle Photo)

Two CTA 4000s go up the ramp on Lake Street, just west of Laramie, to rejoin the steel “L” structure east of here on November 30, 1952. (Robert Selle Photo)

In September 1959, we see a two-car train of CTA 4000s, preparing to head east. I believe the location is Marion Street in Oak Park and not Marengo Avenue in Forest Park as written on the slide mount. Marengo is a short distance west of Harlem, and although Lake Street trains did go there, the buildings in this picture match Marion. We have another picture in this post showing what the area west of Harlem actually looked like. (William Shapotkin Collection)

In September 1959, we see a two-car train of CTA 4000s, preparing to head east. I believe the location is Marion Street in Oak Park and not Marengo Avenue in Forest Park as written on the slide mount. Marengo is a short distance west of Harlem, and although Lake Street trains did go there, the buildings in this picture match Marion. We have another picture in this post showing what the area west of Harlem actually looked like. (William Shapotkin Collection)

Photographer Bob Selle notes: Two-car "L" train (4420 at right) on Lake Street line just west of Harlem Avenue." In the distance, you can see the actual terminal. Not that many people boarded there, compared to the Marion Street station just east of Harlem Avenue. This picture was taken on May 1, 1955.

Photographer Bob Selle notes: Two-car “L” train (4420 at right) on Lake Street line just west of Harlem Avenue.” In the distance, you can see the actual terminal. Not that many people boarded there, compared to the Marion Street station just east of Harlem Avenue. This picture was taken on May 1, 1955.

A close-up of the previous picture, showing some wavy track and the actual station and bumper post (or is it turned-up rail?) at the west end of the Lake Street "L" prior to 1962. Riders could board trains at the station, which was located about two blocks west of Harlem Avenue.

A close-up of the previous picture, showing some wavy track and the actual station and bumper post (or is it turned-up rail?) at the west end of the Lake Street “L” prior to 1962. Riders could board trains at the station, which was located about two blocks west of Harlem Avenue.

CTA one-man car 3125, heading west on Route 16, is turning north from Lake Street onto Pine Street, where Lake takes a jog. In the process, it crosses the ground-level Lake Street "L". This picture was taken on September 26, 1953. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA one-man car 3125, heading west on Route 16, is turning north from Lake Street onto Pine Street, where Lake takes a jog. In the process, it crosses the ground-level Lake Street “L”. This picture was taken on September 26, 1953. (Robert Selle Photo)