Christmas in July

Santa Claus arrives by trolley at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, sometime in the 1970s. It probably wasn't July, though. (John Engleman Photo)

Santa Claus arrives by trolley at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, sometime in the 1970s. It probably wasn’t July, though. (John Engleman Photo)

It recently felt like Christmas in July, when I received a large batch of vintage 35mm color negatives taken by John Engleman of Maryland for scanning and sharing here. Even more fitting, Santa Claus actually does appear in some of the photos!

While we are based in Chicago, and most of our posts feature transit from this area, we do have many readers in other locales. This first installment of photos taken by Mr. Engleman is mainly from out east (Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia) and dates to the 1970s. In addition there are some diesel photos, including passenger trains, and I strongly suspect some are from before the Amtrak era. There are also a few pictures of Seattle trolley buses.

Mr. Engleman is an excellent photographer and I hope you will enjoy the photos he has so generously shared with us. My personal favorites are the ones that show car 6119, the 1930 Baltimore Peter Witt. This was the state of the art in streetcar design, prior to development of the PCC car.

I would like to thank City Lit Books in Logan Square for inviting me to appear at their shop last Saturday to give a presentation about my new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s. I would also like to thank everyone who attended and purchased a copy.

-David Sadowski

PS- If you enjoy reading these posts, you might consider joining our Trolley Dodger Facebook Group as well. We currently have 401 members.

Recent Finds

As my friend J. J. Sedelmaier pointed out, this photo of a North Shore Line Electroliner on the north side "L" must have been taken in the early part of 1941, as it shows the train's pilot in its original configuration, prior to being enlarged.

As my friend J. J. Sedelmaier pointed out, this photo of a North Shore Line Electroliner on the north side “L” must have been taken in the early part of 1941, as it shows the train’s pilot in its original configuration, prior to being enlarged.

Eric Bronsky writes: "I own the original Kodachromes of two of the North Shore photos that appeared in the blog earlier this week. A while back, I enhanced and sharpened the attached image in Photoshop. The photographer was William E. Robertson. I cannot confirm the year because the slide mount is neither dated nor captioned. If you post it, please credit William E. Robertson photo, Eric Bronsky Collection. The other original I have is the Shore Line Route view looking south along St. Johns Ave. in Highland Park. David, a belated thank you for the copy of your Chicago's Lost "L's book. It is absolutely fascinating. Many of these places and things were gone before I became aware of them."

Eric Bronsky writes: “I own the original Kodachromes of two of the North Shore photos that appeared in the blog earlier this week. A while back, I enhanced and sharpened the attached image in Photoshop. The photographer was William E. Robertson. I cannot confirm the year because the slide mount is neither dated nor captioned. If you post it, please credit William E. Robertson photo, Eric Bronsky Collection.
The other original I have is the Shore Line Route view looking south along St. Johns Ave. in Highland Park.
David, a belated thank you for the copy of your Chicago’s Lost “L’s book. It is absolutely fascinating. Many of these places and things were gone before I became aware of them.”

I recently bought this early real photo postcard, showing a Jackson Park "L" train crossing the Illinois Central when it still used steam (pre-1926). This is the second one of these I have, and interestingly, it has less cropping than the first version I had (which is in my new book Chicago's Lost "L"s). Why is this? Well, this is a real photo made from the original negative, and not something made on a printing press. So every time a batch of these were produced, someone had to position the negative, and there was the potential to do it differently each batch. You can almost make out the car numbers here... 17, 274, and maybe 250.  Don's Rail Photos: "17 was built by Jackson & Sharpe in 1892 as SSRT 17 as a steam trailer. It was rebuilt as a MU motor car in 1898. It became CERy 17 in 1913 and retired on January 8, 1924." "274 was built by Jewett in 1905 as SSRT 274. It became CERy 274 in 1913 and became CRT 274 in 1924. It was retired on June 7, 1957." The South Side cars were not renumbered when the four "L" companies were consolidated.

I recently bought this early real photo postcard, showing a Jackson Park “L” train crossing the Illinois Central when it still used steam (pre-1926). This is the second one of these I have, and interestingly, it has less cropping than the first version I had (which is in my new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s). Why is this? Well, this is a real photo made from the original negative, and not something made on a printing press. So every time a batch of these were produced, someone had to position the negative, and there was the potential to do it differently each batch. You can almost make out the car numbers here… 17, 274, and maybe 250. Don’s Rail Photos: “17 was built by Jackson & Sharpe in 1892 as SSRT 17 as a steam trailer. It was rebuilt as a MU motor car in 1898. It became CERy 17 in 1913 and retired on January 8, 1924.” “274 was built by Jewett in 1905 as SSRT 274. It became CERy 274 in 1913 and became CRT 274 in 1924. It was retired on June 7, 1957.” The South Side cars were not renumbered when the four “L” companies were consolidated.

The Photography of John Engleman:

Red Arrow Lines in Media PA

Red Arrow car 73 (built by Brill in 1926) is now preserved at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum. Their web site notes, “Car 73 was refurbished in 1972 by the transit authority (SEPTA) and the local business association as the centerpiece of a “Media Mall” promotion in that suburban community – the regular streetcar would turn back at the edge of town, and riders would transfer to 73 for the trip along State Street. After the novelty (and funding) wore off regular trolley service was resumed in Media and car 73 was retained for charter and work service until it was declared surplus by SEPTA and acquired by PTM in 1990.”

I think that is what we see here.

Philadelphia Streetcars

It is apparent that some sort of horsing around was going on with a PCC car on New Year’s Eve one year.

National Capital Trolley Museum (Silver Springs, MD)

Johnstown, PA was the smallest city to operate PCC streetcars in the classic era, and it ran streetcars until 1960. Johnstown Traction car 352, which appears in some of these pictures, was built by St. Louis Car Company in 1925 and preserved for many years at the National Capital Trolley Museum. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in an accidental fire in 2003, along with some of the other trams seen here.

Baltimore Streetcar Museum

Seattle Trolley Buses

M. E. writes, "A group of old (but still employed) and retired Seattle trolley bus drivers and mechanics has for many years maintained and offered rides on three trolley buses from the 1930s and 1940s. I rode on a couple of those trips. They were outstanding bargains, about $5 for several hours of touring many Seattle neighborhoods. It was much fun to see heads turn when the old buses went by. The web site for this group is http://www.mehva.org . Sad to report that it appears they ran into insurance liability problems and had to cancel their excursions in 2020. Nothing yet thus far in 2021. Seattle also had acquired several old trams from Melbourne, Australia (which still has a huge tram network), and ran those trams for about a mile underneath the elevated Aurora Freeway through downtown. Alas, maybe 10+ years ago they stopped running this service. More recently, Seattle tore down the freeway."

M. E. writes, “A group of old (but still employed) and retired Seattle trolley bus drivers and mechanics has for many years maintained and offered rides on three trolley buses from the 1930s and 1940s. I rode on a couple of those trips. They were outstanding bargains, about $5 for several hours of touring many Seattle neighborhoods. It was much fun to see heads turn when the old buses went by. The web site for this group is http://www.mehva.org . Sad to report that it appears they ran into insurance liability problems and had to cancel their excursions in 2020. Nothing yet thus far in 2021.
Seattle also had acquired several old trams from Melbourne, Australia (which still has a huge tram network), and ran those trams for about a mile underneath the elevated Aurora Freeway through downtown. Alas, maybe 10+ years ago they stopped running this service. More recently, Seattle tore down the freeway.”

Diesel Trains

It’s hard to tell when some of these were taken, but I did spot a 1969 license plate on a vehicle in a couple of shots.

This photo was taken at one of the two terminals in Seattle. It is probably the King St. station, the one that is still operating. The white building in the background is the Smith Tower, which was the tallest building west of the Mississippi when it was built in 1914. Although I don't know the situation today, several years ago the elevators in Smith Tower still had human operators in the cars. But all they did was push buttons for floors.

M. E. writes, “This photo was taken at one of the two terminals in Seattle. It is probably the King St. station, the one that is still operating. The white building in the background is the Smith Tower, which was the tallest building west of the Mississippi when it was built in 1914. Although I don’t know the situation today, several years ago the elevators in Smith Tower still had human operators in the cars. But all they did was push buttons for floors.”

Again, I would like to thank John Engleman for sharing all these great classic photos with our readers. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

The Trolley Dodger On the Air

On July 16th, I was invited to appear on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio, 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:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW DVD:

A Tribute to the North Shore Line

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.

Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.

It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time.  The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.

Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.

Total time – 121:22

# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

This is our 273rd 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 787,000 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.

Holiday Spirit

Here's Eric Bronsky's 2017 holiday card. Alluding to some Comments that were made about a different picture in our last post (Reader Showcase, 12-11-2017), we are certain that this image of the new Chicago Transit Authority "L" station at Washington and Wabash has been worked over in Photoshop. But such is our desire to see North Shore Line trains running again, that we freely admit we believe it must be true!*

Here’s Eric Bronsky’s 2017 holiday card. Alluding to some Comments that were made about a different picture in our last post (Reader Showcase, 12-11-2017), we are certain that this image of the new Chicago Transit Authority “L” station at Washington and Wabash has been worked over in Photoshop. But such is our desire to see North Shore Line trains running again, that we freely admit we believe it must be true!*

Christmas Eve is here once again, and we’re sharing some holiday joy from our readers. Thanks to everyone who let us use their pictures. Whatever your beliefs, we hope for a joyous holiday season for all.

-David Sadowski

From John F. Bromley:

From Kenneth Gear:

From Alan Wickens:

Alan Wickens produces a monthly magazine about Wellington, New Zealand’s (now former) trolleybus system. This was the November ‘special’ to mark the very last day of trolleybus operation there. Click this link to read it.

From Bob Carroll:

Pittsburgh, 1975.

Pittsburgh, 1975.

From Charles Seims:

Jack Bejna writes:

Here’s an early Xmas present for the blog. My favorite CA&E cars are by far the original several orders of woodies, especially before they lost their original window configuration. It’s too bad we didn’t have modern cameras to capture these wooden beauties in all their original configuration. Merry Christmas and a great New Year as well.

And I know I join our readers in wishing the same to you as well, thanks!

CA&E 12 was built by Niles in 1902.

CA&E 12 was built by Niles in 1902.

CA&E 14, built by Niles in 1902.

CA&E 14, built by Niles in 1902.

CA&E 24, built by Niles in 1902.

CA&E 24, built by Niles in 1902.

CA&E 26, built by Niles in 1902.

CA&E 26, built by Niles in 1902.

CA&E 30, built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 30, built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 34, built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 34, built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 46, built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 46, built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 48 as new. It was built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 48 as new. It was built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 54 was built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 54 was built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 103, a trailer, was built by Stephenson in 1902.

CA&E 103, a trailer, was built by Stephenson in 1902.

Recent Finds

Here are three Red Border Kodachrome slides we recently acquired, plus one circular:

A train of CTA 4000s prepares to head east at DesPlaines Avenue, west end of the Garfield Park "L", on May 26, 1956.

A train of CTA 4000s prepares to head east at DesPlaines Avenue, west end of the Garfield Park “L”, on May 26, 1956.

A two-car Chicago Aurora & Elgin train loops at DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park on May 26, 1956, while a CTA Route 17 bus waits in the background. That was the replacement service for the Westchester branch of the "L", which uit in 1951.

A two-car Chicago Aurora & Elgin train loops at DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park on May 26, 1956, while a CTA Route 17 bus waits in the background. That was the replacement service for the Westchester branch of the “L”, which uit in 1951.

On July 4, 1953, we are looking north from the stairway to the CTA's "L" station at State and Van Buren. Streetcars are still running on State Street, via tracks laid in concrete about ten years before when the State Street subway was built. The nearby subway entrances are in their original configuration. State did not get those "preying mantis" street lights until 1959.

On July 4, 1953, we are looking north from the stairway to the CTA’s “L” station at State and Van Buren. Streetcars are still running on State Street, via tracks laid in concrete about ten years before when the State Street subway was built. The nearby subway entrances are in their original configuration. State did not get those “preying mantis” street lights until 1959.

Unfortunately, one tour that you can't take via interurban any longer...

Unfortunately, one tour that you can’t take via interurban any longer…

Santa Is Coming…

The Santa Maria Valley Railroad, that is, in vintage 1959 recordings prepared for the Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, Wisconsin, but previously unissued, now digitally remastered for your enjoyment on compact disc:

From the introduction to the record:

This is Pete Brett. What you are about to hear is a recording of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad in 1959. Engine number 21, Mikado type, 2-8-2, oil burning.

Regular service in 1959, on the Santa Maria Valley, freight only. My recording depicts a composite of different recordings, of different operations. Our train switches in Santa Maria, some switching operation at the John Inglis Frozen Food Company, just outside Santa Maria, which we’ll hear some sounds of mechanical reefers, along with whistles.

Some on-line recordings, as the train proceeds to Betteravia Junction. There, some of the cars are cut out, the engine backs up to Betteravaia, switches, drops off some cars, picks some up, goes back to Betteravia Junction, picks up the rest of the train; we proceed on to Guadalupe, and our junction with the Southern Pacific. There, some switching operations, as some cars are dropped off, others picked up. Later on, the train returns to Betteravaia Junction. Once again, the train splits in two, part of it going to Betteravia, the switching operation there, the train then proceeding on to Santa Maria.

Santa Maria Valley Railroad, 1959.

The remainder of the CD includes 14 additional steam railroad tracks recorded by William A. Steventon, for use in a presentation he gave, demonstrating various types of sounds involved in basic railroad operations.

Total Time: 70:26

A History of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad

From the railroad’s website:

The Santa Maria Valley Railroad (SMVRR.com) has a rich and interesting history, and can be credited, at least in large part, with the Santa Maria Valley becoming an economic powerhouse by building up primarily the agricultural and industrial segments of its economy.

The Santa Maria Valley Railroad commenced construction on July 11, 1911 by an English oil syndicate to haul oil and asphalt from Roadamite to Guadalupe. The SMVRR reached Santa Maria on October 7, 1911 and was completed to Roadamite on November 5, 1911. The SMVRR took over switching operations for Union Sugar Plant. The railroad was initially successful but in the 1920s the sugar plant closed and the railroad drifted into bankruptcy in 1925.

Captain G. Allan Hancock purchased the railroad in 1925 in a bankruptcy auction on the steps of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse and proceeded to build many industries which complemented the railroad. Captain Hancock built a state of the art, fully-equipped engine house to maintain his locomotives and equipment. He invested heavily in the railroad, installing new ties and new rail, and buying locomotives. Captain Hancock developed agriculture in the Santa Maria Valley, introducing new irrigation methods, and invested heavily in packing sheds, an ice plant, and Rosemary Farms. By the mid 1930s the SMVRR was hauling many carloads of sugar beets to the Union Sugar Plant in Betteravia, and crude oil and vegetables out of the valley. The SMVRR was one of the busiest shortline railroads on the west, hauling over 20,000 carloads per year.

At the start of World War II, the SMVRR purchased the old Pacific Coast (narrow gauge) Railroad right-of-way to the Airbase, now the location of the Santa Maria Airport. The Airbase Branch is actually the oldest railroad right-of-way on the SMVRR system, originally constructed in April 1882. In fact, the Airbase Branch is the only Pacific Coast right-of-way still in operation as a railroad.

Roadamite ceased operations in the late 1940s and the line was abandoned from Sisquoc to Roadamite in 1949. The last major track construction was in 1950 when the Battles Branch was built to service a refinery.

The SMVRR was one of the last railroads on the West Coast to run main line steam locomotives. On February 24, 1962, the last run of steam engine 21, with Captain Hancock at the throttle and Walt Disney in the cab, occurred. The SMVRR had purchased its first diesel-electric locomotives, the GE 70-tonners, in 1948. The GE 70-tonners proved to be excellent work horses for the SMVRR and they eventually displaced the steam locomotives.

Captain Hancock passed away in 1965. Two Hancock family trusts took over the SMVRR: the Marian Mullen Trust, controlled by Hancock’s third wife Marian Hancock; and the Rosemary Trust, the descendants of Rosemary, Hancock’s only daughter. Through the years many of the loose carload merchandise business went to trucking and by the late 1970s the fresh vegetable market was gone. Oil produced in the valley eventually left the rails. In August 1993, Holly Sugar closed down the sugar plant in Betteravia. This resulted in the loss of 90% of the railroad’s remaining traffic. The Hancock Trusts eventually concentrated on their more lucrative real estate holdings and the railroad continued to lose its customer base.

The Rosemary Trust took complete control of the railroad in 1999 and worked to turn the fortunes around for the railroad. An intense marketing campaign brought some new customers aboard. The railroad divested its right-of-way east of Highway 101 in Santa Maria and the main line trackage was reduced to 14 miles.

In October 2006 the SMVRR was purchased by the Coast Belle Rail Corporation from the descendants of the Hancock family, ending more than 80 years of control by the Hancock Family. New ownership embarked on a daunting task of rebuilding the line and rebuilding the customer base. To raise public and customer awareness and to raise much needed capital, the SMVRR hosted special events and dinner excursions.

On November 9, 2006 the SMVRR chartered the private car Silver Lariat for a freight customer appreciation excursion. That night was the first public excursion since 1962. On December 9, 2006 the SMVRR held its first ever public open house, the first of several events to reintroduce the public to the railroad. On the weekend of April 5, 2008 the former SMVRR Railbus No. 9 made a cameo appearance during a Motorcar Operators West excursion.

In September 2008 the SMVRR moved its yard and office facilities out of downtown Santa Maria and relocated at the former sugar plant in Betteravia. The new location offers full transload services with team track, dock track and ramp track as well as many acres of on-ground storage.

In July 2016, the SMVRR Headquarters relocates to its new Osburn Yard.

Today, history continues to be made. The past two years were the busiest since the sugar beet plant closed in 1993. New customers have come on board as well as current customers increasing their carloadings. The SMVRR is now a full-service shortline railroad company, performing contract switching, contract track repairs and inspections, and car repairs.

Friends of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad

The Friends of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad (Friends-SMVRR.org) was formed in 2007 to preserve the history of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad and to educate its members on the current railroad industry. Tours and lectures cover the current railroad business, railroad safety, as well as the history of the railroad.

On May 13, 2017, the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum opened an exhibit entitled, “Two Centuries…One Dream”, the story of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad.

Here are some pictures taken on the occasion of the last steam operation on the Santa Maria Valley on February 24, 1962. I would expect that the “Ward” in one picture was Ward Kimball (1914-2002), one of Disney’s “Nine Old Men”:

A dream that fortunately did not come true: CHICAGO'S LOOP ELEVATED TRACKS TO GO January 4, 1974 - This is a view looking south of the Elevated tracks of Chicago's CTA system on Wabash Avenue. This section along with other portions that formed "The Loop" is scheduled to be taken down sometime in the future with the building of a subway that is to take its place.

A dream that fortunately did not come true:

CHICAGO’S LOOP ELEVATED TRACKS TO GO
January 4, 1974 – This is a view looking south of the Elevated tracks of Chicago’s CTA system on Wabash Avenue. This section along with other portions that formed “The Loop” is scheduled to be taken down sometime in the future with the building of a subway that is to take its place.

*Here’s the original message Eric sent out with his card:

40 years ago, who would have imagined that Chicago’s Loop ‘L,’ long reviled as an eyesore and a deterrent to urban revitalization, would one day be viewed as an iconic landmark? The turnaround began soon after the city axed a harebrained scheme to tear down the ‘L’ and replace it with a single subway route under Franklin Street. Property values adjacent to the structure have since risen, and in mild weather you can even dine at a sidewalk café in the shadow of the ‘L’ (Mort’s Deli once offered “‘L’-egant dining under the cars”).

To date, the 120-year-old Loop ‘L’ structure has been restored and all except two of the aging stations have been renovated or replaced. Most recently, Washington/Wabash, a completely new and accessible ‘L’ station with wide platforms beneath a striking glass-and-steel canopy with LED lighting replaced two historic but obsolete stations at Randolph and Madison Streets.

In the spirit of CTA’s annual Holiday Train and Elves’ Workshop Train, and also the “Heritage Fleet,” we digitally enhanced the new Washington/Wabash station with some red-and-green stuff. The North Shore train is grafted from an original photo by William E. Robertson. The elf (someone you know?) is waiting for the train to Santa’s workshop. You might need to enlarge the image to spot some of the other oddities. It’s sort of like a “What’s wrong with this picture” … or should we say, “What’s right with this picture?”

— Eric

Chicago Trolleys

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

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

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

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

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 203rd 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 351,000 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.

An Easter Parade of Traction

The throngs of people in this June 1926 photograph were attending the Catholic Church's 28th International Eucharistic Congress in Mundelein. Note the variety of rail cars being used to move the masses. After the Congress ended, ridership on the North Shore Line's Mundelein-Libertyville branch was sparse enough that service was provided by a single city streetcar.

The throngs of people in this June 1926 photograph were attending the Catholic Church’s 28th International Eucharistic Congress in Mundelein. Note the variety of rail cars being used to move the masses. After the Congress ended, ridership on the North Shore Line’s Mundelein-Libertyville branch was sparse enough that service was provided by a single city streetcar.

As this is Easter weekend, here is a veritable “Easter Parade” of Illinois traction pictures for your enjoyment. No matter what your religious preference may be, we hope that you will not pass over them.

-David Sadowski

CTA 1767, signed for Route 58 - Ogden, is actually heading east on Randolph at Green Street in this early 1950s view.

CTA 1767, signed for Route 58 – Ogden, is actually heading east on Randolph at Green Street in this early 1950s view.

Randolph and Green Streets today.

Randolph and Green Streets today.

CSL 5644 is on Lincoln Avenue and signed to go to both Riverview Park and Harrison and State. 5644 was known as a Brill-American-Kuhlman car. Don's Rail Photos says, "5622 thru 5650 were built by Brill in 1909, #16952, for Southern Street Ry which was a subsidiary." (Southern Street Railway was one of the underlying companies that formed CSL.) Jim Huffman adds, "Probably a Riverview-Larrabee or aka Lincoln-Riverview car. Route Western & Roscoe crossover (later a loop west side of Western), EB to Damen, SB to Belmont, EB to Lincoln, SB to Larrabee thence into Downtown. Ended Sept 1947. A shuttle bus service on Roscoe to the Lincoln Ravenswood station remained for many years. Clybourn was another route that also at times that loop on Western, Clybourn’s actual crossover was at Western, but tracks continued north onto Western with switches into that loop. Western NB short turn cars also used that loop. At times there were cars from three routes in that loop. There were not that many turn-around loops with that many routes." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 5644 is on Lincoln Avenue and signed to go to both Riverview Park and Harrison and State. 5644 was known as a Brill-American-Kuhlman car. Don’s Rail Photos says, “5622 thru 5650 were built by Brill in 1909, #16952, for Southern Street Ry which was a subsidiary.” (Southern Street Railway was one of the underlying companies that formed CSL.) Jim Huffman adds, “Probably a Riverview-Larrabee or aka Lincoln-Riverview car. Route Western & Roscoe crossover (later a loop west side of Western), EB to Damen, SB to Belmont, EB to Lincoln, SB to Larrabee thence into Downtown. Ended Sept 1947. A shuttle bus service on Roscoe to the Lincoln Ravenswood station remained for many years. Clybourn was another route that also at times that loop on Western, Clybourn’s actual crossover was at Western, but tracks continued north onto Western with switches into that loop. Western NB short turn cars also used that loop. At times there were cars from three routes in that loop. There were not that many turn-around loops with that many routes.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 7005, still looking shiny, at the Madison-Austin loop. I would date this picture to circa 1937 as the paint has not yet dulled on the car.

CSL 7005, still looking shiny, at the Madison-Austin loop. I would date this picture to circa 1937 as the paint has not yet dulled on the car.

The same buildings are across the street from the east side of the Madison-Austin loop even today. But the flow of vehicles through the loop has been reversed, compared to how it was in streetcar days.

The same buildings are across the street from the east side of the Madison-Austin loop even today. But the flow of vehicles through the loop has been reversed, compared to how it was in streetcar days.

CTA Pullman 691 at Belmont and Central in November 1948. (Jack Gervais Photo)

CTA Pullman 691 at Belmont and Central in November 1948. (Jack Gervais Photo)

CSL 6200 on the Windsor Park line. This was a Multiple-Unit car. Don's Rail Photos adds, "6200 was built by CSL in 1924. It was rebuilt as one man service in 1932." Andre Kristopans adds, "One funny thing about this location, when the CTA started the automated stop announcements on the buses, the southbound stop, which is where the B&O crossing was a bit south of 83rd Place, is announced as “Commercial Avenue at Railroad crossing”, even though the tracks have been gone since the 1970’s sometime!" (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 6200 on the Windsor Park line. This was a Multiple-Unit car. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “6200 was built by CSL in 1924. It was rebuilt as one man service in 1932.” Andre Kristopans adds, “One funny thing about this location, when the CTA started the automated stop announcements on the buses, the southbound stop, which is where the B&O crossing was a bit south of 83rd Place, is announced as “Commercial Avenue at Railroad crossing”, even though the tracks have been gone since the 1970’s sometime!” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

Here, CSL 2811 is outbound on the Riverdale line private right-of-way, headed for Michigan and 119th. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

Here, CSL 2811 is outbound on the Riverdale line private right-of-way, headed for Michigan and 119th. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 6238 on the 67-69-71 line. This was known as a Multiple-Unit car. Don's Rail Photos adds, "6238 was built by Lightweight Noiseless Streetcar Co in 1924. It was rebuilt (for) one man service in 1932."

CSL 6238 on the 67-69-71 line. This was known as a Multiple-Unit car. Don’s Rail Photos adds, “6238 was built by Lightweight Noiseless Streetcar Co in 1924. It was rebuilt (for) one man service in 1932.”

CTA Marmon trolley buses 9586 and 9594 at the North Avenue garage.

CTA Marmon trolley buses 9586 and 9594 at the North Avenue garage.

CTA Marmon trolley bus on North Avenue.

CTA Marmon trolley bus on North Avenue.

CTA trolley bus 9462 at the Cicero and Montrose loop. The McDonald's at rear says 9 billion hamburgers have been sold, which would help date this photo to perhaps the mid-1960s. I believe this was the first McDonald's in the City of Chicago.

CTA trolley bus 9462 at the Cicero and Montrose loop. The McDonald’s at rear says 9 billion hamburgers have been sold, which would help date this photo to perhaps the mid-1960s. I believe this was the first McDonald’s in the City of Chicago.

CTA trolley bus 9631 is westbound on Belmont at Cicero circa 1970.

CTA trolley bus 9631 is westbound on Belmont at Cicero circa 1970.

9462 at the Cicero and Montrose loop.

9462 at the Cicero and Montrose loop.

Illinois Central electric suburban cars 1125 and 1226 in downtown Chicago on July 17, 1965.

Illinois Central electric suburban cars 1125 and 1226 in downtown Chicago on July 17, 1965.

Don's Rail Photos says: "415 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1924, #1324, as CO&P (Chicago, Ottawa & Peoria) 64. It became C&IV (Chicago & Illinois Valley) 64 in 1929. It was rebuilt as IT (Illinois Terminal) 415 on September 16, 1934. and sold to Illinois Electric Railway Museum on October 19, 1956."

Don’s Rail Photos says: “415 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1924, #1324, as CO&P (Chicago, Ottawa & Peoria) 64. It became C&IV (Chicago & Illinois Valley) 64 in 1929. It was rebuilt as IT (Illinois Terminal) 415 on September 16, 1934. and sold to Illinois Electric Railway Museum on October 19, 1956.”

Chicago and Joliet Electric car 242, known as the "Ottawa," after the 1934 abandonment.

Chicago and Joliet Electric car 242, known as the “Ottawa,” after the 1934 abandonment.

As Loop ridership increased, platforms were extended to create more room to berth trains. Eventually, some stations on the Van Buren and Wells legs of the Loop had continuous platforms connecting them—which may have inspired continuous platforms in Chicago’s two first subways. Here, Randolph and Wells is being extended in the early 1920s to connect with Madison and Wells. We are looking north.

As Loop ridership increased, platforms were extended to create more room to berth trains. Eventually, some stations on the Van Buren and Wells legs of the Loop had continuous platforms connecting them—which may have inspired continuous platforms in Chicago’s two first subways. Here, Randolph and Wells is being extended in the early 1920s to connect with Madison and Wells. We are looking north.

Here, we are looking north on Wabash at Van Buren, near Tower 12, circa the 1940s.

Here, we are looking north on Wabash at Van Buren, near Tower 12, circa the 1940s.

This is the old State and Van Buren station on the Loop "L", looking east towards Tower 12. This station was closed in 1972 and demolished. It has since been replaced, due to its proximity to the Harold Washington Library.

This is the old State and Van Buren station on the Loop “L”, looking east towards Tower 12. This station was closed in 1972 and demolished. It has since been replaced, due to its proximity to the Harold Washington Library.

A snowy scene at Wabash and Lake, site of the tightest curve on the "L".

A snowy scene at Wabash and Lake, site of the tightest curve on the “L”.

CTA gate car 1050 at Howard on the Evanston shuttle.

CTA gate car 1050 at Howard on the Evanston shuttle.

We originally ran another version of this photo in our post Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Five (Spetember 26, 2016), where it was identified as Noyes Street in Evanston looking south. This version of the photo has less cropping and is dated August 10, 1928. Work is underway on elevating this portion of the Evanston "L".

We originally ran another version of this photo in our post Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Five (Spetember 26, 2016), where it was identified as Noyes Street in Evanston looking south. This version of the photo has less cropping and is dated August 10, 1928. Work is underway on elevating this portion of the Evanston “L”.

This is an inspection train at the Lake Street Transfer "L" station, which provided connections between the Lake Street "L", on the lower level, and the Metropolitan above. The higher level station was closed in February 1951, when the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway opened.

This is an inspection train at the Lake Street Transfer “L” station, which provided connections between the Lake Street “L”, on the lower level, and the Metropolitan above. The higher level station was closed in February 1951, when the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway opened.

CRT 1715 at Marion Street in Oak Park on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L". It is signed as a local and is about to head east. This car was originally built by St. Louis Car Conpany in 1903 for the Northwestern Elevated Railway as car 715 and was renumbered to 1715 in 1913.

CRT 1715 at Marion Street in Oak Park on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L”. It is signed as a local and is about to head east. This car was originally built by St. Louis Car Conpany in 1903 for the Northwestern Elevated Railway as car 715 and was renumbered to 1715 in 1913.

CTA 1780 heads up an "A" train at Marion Street in Oak Park. The ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L" was relocated onto the nearby C&NW embankment in 1962. This picture was probably taken between 1948 and 1955.

CTA 1780 heads up an “A” train at Marion Street in Oak Park. The ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L” was relocated onto the nearby C&NW embankment in 1962. This picture was probably taken between 1948 and 1955.

A CRT gate car on the Stock Yards branch of the "L".

A CRT gate car on the Stock Yards branch of the “L”.

This picture, taken on May 21, 1934, shows how the CRT Stock Yards "L" branch was extensively damaged by fire two days earlier. Service west of Halsted did not resume until January 16, 1935.

This picture, taken on May 21, 1934, shows how the CRT Stock Yards “L” branch was extensively damaged by fire two days earlier. Service west of Halsted did not resume until January 16, 1935.

The single-track Stock Yards loop.

The single-track Stock Yards loop.

CRT 4318 is headed for Westchester, a branch off the Garfield Park "L". This appears to be the 11th Avenue station in Maywood, and most likely, prior to 1943, when all the CRT's steel cars were diverted to run in the new State Street Subway.

CRT 4318 is headed for Westchester, a branch off the Garfield Park “L”. This appears to be the 11th Avenue station in Maywood, and most likely, prior to 1943, when all the CRT’s steel cars were diverted to run in the new State Street Subway.

CA&E 46 on the west end of a six-car train at Laramie Yards.

CA&E 46 on the west end of a six-car train at Laramie Yards.

CA&E 424 loops at DesPlaines Avenue circa 1953-57, with a Chicago Great Western freight train in the background. We are looking north.

CA&E 424 loops at DesPlaines Avenue circa 1953-57, with a Chicago Great Western freight train in the background. We are looking north.

The CA&E off-street terminal at Aurora. There is a sign indicating this is the new terminal, opening on December 31st (1939). Since there are trains in the station,I would date this picture to circa 1940. Previously, trains ran on city streets in downtown Aurora.

The CA&E off-street terminal at Aurora. There is a sign indicating this is the new terminal, opening on December 31st (1939). Since there are trains in the station,I would date this picture to circa 1940. Previously, trains ran on city streets in downtown Aurora.

This view of the CA&E Aurora terminal is from the early 1950s.

This view of the CA&E Aurora terminal is from the early 1950s.

The CA&E Wheaton station in the early 1950s.

The CA&E Wheaton station in the early 1950s.

A view of the CA&E Wheaton Yards.

A view of the CA&E Wheaton Yards.

This picture shows CA&E car 425 at Glen Oak on a Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip. The date was September 2, 1940.

This picture shows CA&E car 425 at Glen Oak on a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. The date was September 2, 1940.

CA&E wood car 318, at right, is making a photo stop at Clintonville on the Elgin branch, during an early Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip. Presumably the 415 at left is a regular service car.

CA&E wood car 318, at right, is making a photo stop at Clintonville on the Elgin branch, during an early Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. Presumably the 415 at left is a regular service car.

A close-up of the previous picture.

A close-up of the previous picture.

Not-So-Recent Correspondence

We recently acquired a letter and some photographs that were sent by the late William E. Robertson (1920-2003) of Wilmette, Illinois to George (Campbell?):

Sep/22/1951

Dear George,

Here are a few photographs taken on the North Shore Line some years ago, hope they will be of general interest. Regret delay in posting them to you, after your promptness in (sending) Fort Dodge photos to me!

In two weeks I am taking a big eastern trip through Canada and New England where I hope to get many electric railway pictures. Will not be home until the opening of November, but still look for(ward to) your visit here. No other news for now.

Sincerely, Bill

Bill Robertson was part of the “Greatest Generation” of early railfans.  The letter does not say whether Mr. Robertson took these photos, but that’s a good inference.

Among other things, Bill Robertson was an inventor, and had a few patents in his name, including one for a “High-Speed Transportation System.” This must have had some utility, as it has been cited by several other later patents.

Chances are, Bill Robertson took all six pictures. The captions shown are his:

#1 Sweeper on Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette, Ill., Shore Line Route. Jan/31/1940.

#1 Sweeper on Greenleaf Avenue in Wilmette, Ill., Shore Line Route. Jan/31/1940.

#2 Waukegan city car barn, North Chicago, Ill. This car long since scrapped, photo taken in September 1939.

#2 Waukegan city car barn, North Chicago, Ill. This car long since scrapped, photo taken in September 1939.

#3 Shore Line train, Greenleaf Avenue, Wilmette, Ill. Taken about 1944. Southbound.

#3 Shore Line train, Greenleaf Avenue, Wilmette, Ill. Taken about 1944. Southbound.

#4 North Chicago barns, Birney car that later went to Milwaukee, Wis. Scrapped in 1947. Photo taken in September 1939. Car shown in 2 at left.

#4 North Chicago barns, Birney car that later went to Milwaukee, Wis. Scrapped in 1947. Photo taken in September 1939. Car shown in 2 at left.

#5 Chicago Limited in Milwaukee, date unknown, but after 1939.

#5 Chicago Limited in Milwaukee, date unknown, but after 1939.

#6 Worst North Shore wreck, at Burlington Road, Kenosha, Wis. Sunday night, Feb. 23, 1930. 11 killed, 100 injured and one car so smashed it was never returned to service (No. 745).

#6 Worst North Shore wreck, at Burlington Road, Kenosha, Wis. Sunday night, Feb. 23, 1930. 11 killed, 100 injured and one car so smashed it was never returned to service (No. 745).

Recent Correspondence

Jack Bejna writes:

Hi Dave,

Another great post! I can’t imagine how you find the time to put these excellent posts together; I’m just glad you do! If your readers haven’t sat in front of a computer Photoshopping for hours on end to improve a single image they can’t possibly know how much work goes into your posts. I’m sending along some images of the Wheaton depot and shop areas.

Thanks for all the wonderful photos you have shared with our readers. You do a fantastic job! I appreciate your kind words.

North Shore Line Abandonment Petition

In 1962, the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee Railway petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission to abandon the entire interurban. The railroad convinced the ICC that there was no hope to restore profitability in this era before government subsidies. The last trains ran in the early hours of January 21, 1963.

There were various groups trying to save the railroad. This document, published by the North Shore Line, tends to undercut various arguments made by these outside groups. An impression is conveyed that operations were already quite lean, and that further significant cost savings were not realistic.

In sum, the only thing that could have saved the interurban at this stage would have been subsidies. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The Chicago Transit Authority had reached the same conclusion in the late 1950s, and it is only due to such subsidies, staring in the mid-1960s, that we have any public transit to speak of in this country today.

At any rate, this makes fascinating reading for North Shore Line fans.

-David Sadowski

Finally, Tom Morrow writes:

An Electric Transit Easter Parade cannot be complete without Pullman 441 from Dayton. Circa 1962.

Photo by Cliff Scholes.

Take care.

Chicago Trolleys

Work continues on our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys, which is now in the layout and proofreading stage. Lots of work has been done on the text, and the final selection of photos has been made. We will keep you advised as things progress.

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