CSL 5249 appears to be heading southbound on Larrabee, just north of Chicago Avenue. To the left, you see the Montgomery Ward complex, which has since been turned into residential. 5249 is signed to go to Vincennes and 88th, which probably makes this a Halsted car. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) M. E. writes: “The barn at 88th and Vincennes was originally the barn for the Kanakakee cars that ran from the Englewood L station at 63rd Place and Halsted, south on Halsted, southwest on Summit (a short street connecting Halsted with Vincennes), and Vincennes. When that service folded, the Chicago Surface Lines took over the barn. That barn closed early in my lifetime.”
Today’s post features many “old school” railfan photos, all from the collections of William Shapotkin. In the 1930s and 40s, photographers such as Joe L. Diaz and Edward Frank, Jr. wandered all over Chicagoland, taking black and white photos of streetcars, “L” cars, and interurbans, which they printed up and sold at railfan meetings.
They were still selling these photos into the 1980s and 90s. Years ago, I met both of these gentlemen, who are sadly no longer with us. Perhaps the late Malcolm D. McCarter was the last of this breed. He started selling photos around 1942, and continued to do so for the next 75 years or so. He was also the last living original member of the Illinois Railway Museum.
Unfortunately, these photos often did not come with any documentation as to when, or where, these pictures were taken. We have written captions that include whatever we could determine. But I know that our highly informed, eagle-eyed readers will help us fill in some of the missing details.
When referring to individual photos, please use the file name (i.e. shapotkin262), which you can get by hovering your mouse over the image, instead of saying “the sixth photo down” or some such. We thank you in advance for helping us with these, and let’s thank Bill Shapotkin again for graciously sharing them with us.
You also might want to consider a trip to Indianapolis to attend this year’s Hoosier Traction Meet, which Mr. Shapotkin runs. You can view a flyer (in PDF form) with all the relevant information here.
PS- At the end of this post, you will also find a blurb for our upcoming book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, to be released on July 12 from Arcadia Publishing. So far, we have received orders for more than 70 copies, for which we are very grateful.
FYI, we also have a Facebook auxiliary for the Trolley Dodger, which currently has 368 members.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin
CSL Pullman 172. Daniel Joseph has identified this as the intersection of Ogden, Cermak, and Springfield.
CSL 5638, signed for Navy Pier, may be running on the Stony Island route. M. E. writes, “The caption is undoubtedly correct that these are Stony Island cars that had the north destination Navy Pier. I’d like to add that I see so many trolley poles on the cars, going in both directions, that I think this place was the south terminal which was just north of 93rd St. South of 93rd St., the tracks were used for only a short distance by 93rd/95th St. cars.”
CSL 2803 is southbound on Ashland. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
This picture, taken on April 12, 1915, shows some window damage to CSL car 6063.
CSL 6101, signed for 35th Street. Chris Cole says this “appears to be taken at the Cottage Grove car barn at 38th Street. The Ida B Welles public housing project 2 story buildings are in the background. The Wells Homes ran from Cottage Grove to King Drive and 35th to Pershing Rd (39th). I also note that there are a number of overhead lines that would be present on the driveway to the barn. I believe that the 35th streetcar used the Cottage Grove barn from 1946 to 1951.”
CSL 2601 on the 111th Street line. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 1455. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 2745. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Andre Kristopans says this is “looking W down Wrightwood from Lincoln on Lincoln Carhouse leads – car is pulling out to do a Riverview-Larrabee run.” Daniel Joseph adds, “Possibly at Wrightwood, Lincoln & Sheffield at car barn.”
CSL 2599 on the Brandon-Brainard line. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 419 at the east end of the Chicago Avenue line on December 27, 1946.
CSL 5653, signed for Ashland. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 2730 and 2728. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Andre Kristopans: “Open yard on west side of Lincoln carhouse looking south.”
CSL 2731 and 1346. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Andre Kristopans: “Open yard on west side of Lincoln carhouse looking south.”
CSL 3315 on the 67-69-71 route.
CSL 5702, signed for 93rd and Stony Island. Our resident south side expert M. E. writes: “I’m going to hazard a guess as to where this picture was taken. But first, I present my case. The destination sign on the first car says “Stony Island-93rd”; the sign on the second car says (I think) “Stony Island-Downtown” — yet both cars are on the same track, heading in the same direction. Why would that happen? It might happen if these were special fan trips, one car following the other, oblivious to their destination signs. Or it might simply be two Stony Island cars heading to 93rd St., but the sign on the second car is wrong. Another factor to consider is that the tracks on Stony Island ran in the street south to 69th St., but south of 69th, they had their own right-of-way between the north- and south-bound auto traffic lanes. In this picture, I believe I see a separation between the tracks and the car lane. Therefore this picture was taken south of 69th St. But the best clue, by far, is the round sign in the distance: “Ruby OK used cars.” The dealership was Ruby Chevrolet. I went to Google and looked up “ruby chevrolet used car location south side chicago”. Up came a link to a Tribune obituary about Richard Ruby, car dealer and attorney, dated 8 December 2014. In that obituary, it says Ruby’s lot was at 72nd and Stony Island. Next, consider the railroad crossing sign. It is a dinky sign with no flashing lights. That would indicate a crossing that was lightly used by trains. I submit that this is the trackage used by the Baltimore and Ohio railroad that started at about 71st and Dorchester (as an offshoot from the Illinois Central main line), then ran southeast, along the ground, through South Shore and to the South Chicago neighborhood. In Google maps, if you enter “73rd and Stony Island Chicago”, you will see the path used by that trackage. It crossed Stony Island just south of 73rd. (This railroad trackage lasted a long time, because the B&O did not want to give it up. So, every day at 3 p.m., they ran a diesel engine and caboose — maybe a few freight cars too — down that track. Motorists mostly ignored the rail crossing signs, so the train had to proceed very slowly and blow its horn constantly.) So, I think this photo’s location is the southeast corner of 73rd and Stony Island, looking north. North of 73rd, Stony Island tracks also carried South Deering cars, which ran from the Jackson Park L at 63rd and Dorchester, south to 64th, east to Stony Island, south to 73rd, then east on 73rd. In the photo, South Deering cars made the turn to the right, whereas Stony Island cars continued straight ahead. Gee, that was much fun to deduce!” Andre Kristopans concurs: “Looking north on Stony at 73rd. RR crossing just out of picture to left was the old B&O Brookdale line, once the main line into Chicago.” Mitch Markovitz adds: “That’s my old neighborhood. Both cars southbound at 73rd and Stony with the tracks for South Deering branching off. It doesn’t really matter what the destination sign reads on the second car. Changing the sign won’t make the car stray off to distant lines. Either a pull out, a pull in, or someone futzing and changing the sign.”
CSL 5909 on Route 47.
CSL 1868. I can’t make out the destination sign. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Michael Franklin: “This is the 5200 block of Harrison St, Chicago. Buildings are still there.”
CSL 419, at the east end of the Chicago Avenue line on December 27, 1946.
CSL snow sweeper E1. Don’s Rail Photos: “E1, sweeper, was built by Lewis and Fowler in 1895 as Chicago Rys 2. It was renumbered E1 in 1913 and became CSL E1 in 1914. It was retired on November 24, 1950.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Not sure which CTA snow plow this is. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Bill Wasik says this “shows an eastbound snowplow on 92nd St. as it approaches Baltimore Avenue. Can’t identify the plow, but two buildings of note in this photo are still standing. These include the glass-bricked neo-Romanesque banquet hall at the far right. This is an 1891 corner block at the northwest corner of Baltimore Ave. Also visible one block to the west is a bank building that once was the headquarters of the Steel City National Bank, a facility mired in scandal during the early 1970s.”
CSL/CTA salt car AA10. Don’s Rail Photos: “AA10, salt car, was built by CUT in 1899 as CUT 4492. It was rebuilt as 1445 in 1911 and became CSL 1445 in 1914. It was rebuilt as (a) salt car in 1930 and renumbered AA10 on October 1, 1941. It was retired on February 18, 1955.”
CSL 3307 is westbound on Montrose, about to cross under the Chicago & North Western railroad at about 1800 West.
The Chicago Surface Lines tracks were extended to the site of A Century of Progress in 1933. This could be from that year, as a shelter is under construction. We are looking south.
CSL 840 under the “L”. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 5621, signed to go to Belmont and Clybourn. This picture seems to date to the mid-1930s.
CSL 204. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
A Chicago Surface Lines trolley bus on Route 86 – Narragansett. This route used trolley buses from 1930 to 1953.
Chicago Motor Coach Company double-decker bus 500, built in 1923.
Andre Kritsopans: “Looking west towards east end of “east house” at 77th, basically where Wentworth south of 77th would be. 77th until 1970s had two separate buildings, with an open area between them, until the open area was roofed over. The pile of junk in front is 77th scrap pile, looks like mostly boilers and other building parts.”
CSL 3286. Might this be Kedzie Station (car house)? (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
On April 16, 1946, Mrs. Edith Sands and her family were living in the body of former CSL streetcar 1384. There was a housing shortage once WWII ended. There is a different picture of the interior of this makeshift home in our book Chicago Trolleys.
CSL 3296 is on Montrose. Could this be westbound at Welles Park? Note the Packard at left.
CSL 1415 is on Racine at Belden on July 9, 1946.
While researching the above photo, I ran across another one, taken at the same location but from the opposite direction:
CSL 1415, built originally in 1906, is at work on Racine at Belden on the WEBSTER RACINE route. The photographer is unknown. An original Kodachrome from February 1942. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 5241 is southbound on Through Route 8, Halsted. Bill Shapotkin adds, “The car (signed for destination of 111/Sacramento and probably a school tripper for Morgan Park High School) is standing W/B in 111th St JUST EAST of Vincennes Ave. That house with the distinctive roof (left) still-stands today. View looks east.”
CSL 5436 is westbound on 79th Street at Ashland on June 11, 1948.
CSL 5635 at Navy Pier.
I assume that CTA PCC 4300 is turning from Archer onto Clark, running a northbound trip on Route 42 – Halsted-Downtown, and that we are looking to the southwest. Note the Rock Island train in the background. Metra Rock Island District trains still use these tracks.
The same location today.
Postwar PCC 4233 being delivered from Pullman.
This one is too fuzzy to see much, except that it is the east end of an east-west streetcar line on the north side, since the tracks end abruptly. I assume that’s Broadway crossing on an angle. Miles Beitler, on the other hand, writes: “I searched the listings for the auto service garage on the right side of the photo. I found a listing for “Ragalie Bros. Auto Service” with a location of 3939 West 5th Avenue, a diagonal street. 3939 is at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Harrison Street. When I checked the 1932 telephone book I found (a) listing for Micheli Restaurant. That location — 3953 West Harrison — is also near the intersection of Harrison and 5th Avenue and it does seem to fit the photo. Moreover, I believe there was a streetcar line on 5th Avenue which ended at Harrison. Of course, the expressway was not there in 1932. Also note the horse drawn Bowman Dairy wagon on the right. I believe that Bowman Dairy used horse drawn delivery wagons well into the 1920s.”
A note re: the picture above. The addresses of the businesses and locations of buildings would seem to confirm that this is Fifth Avenue, just east of Pulaski Road, with Harrison Street as the cross-street in the background. The tracks that end in the middle of the street were for the Madison-Fifth line. When CSL introduced the new single-ended Peter Witts in 1929, they were used on Madison, and a loop was apparently devised for Madison-Fifth by extending these tracks around the block, via Pulaski and Harrison, to form a triangular-shaped loop. The new northbound track on Pulaski was separate from the existing streetcar tracks, so as not to interfere with Pulaski service. In late 1936, CSL put PCC cars on Madison, and these were also used on Madison-Fifth.
This branch line was discontinued on February 22, 1954, when construction of the nearby Congress Expressway reached this area, just to the north. Fifth Avenue was not a major street and would have required a complicated bridge over the highway, crossing at an angle. So it was decided to truncate Fifth instead.
The Garfield Park “L” ran east and west at this point, just south of the alley mid-block between Harrison and Flournoy Streets. The “L” would have been just out of view to the right of this picture. It intersected with Fifth Avenue at Pulaski Road, just behind the photographer.
In this zoomed-in view of the previous picture, the building in the distance matches the building in the next picture, taken in 1953.
CTA 1725 is operating as a one-man shuttle car on the Madison-Fifth branch line on Route 20 on February 15, 1953. The car is heading southwest on Fifth Avenue approaching Harrison Street and Pulaski Avenue, which was the end of the line near the adjacent Garfield Park “L” station. I thought at first that the date might actually have been 1954, but subsequent research shows the 1953 date to be correct. (Robert Selle Photo)
In addition, this photo, taken from the Pulaski Road station on the Garfield Park “L” station, shows buildings on the north side of Fifth Avenue that match up with those in the shapotkin308 image above. Note it’s the same exact fire escape:
On Sunday, September 13, 1953, CTA one-man shuttle car 3175 is on Fifth Avenue at Pulaski (Crawford), the west end of the Fifth Avenue line. This had been a branch line from route 20 – Madison. From this point, the cars looped via Pulaski and Harrison before going back NE on Fifth. The photographer was on the Garfield Park “L” at Pulaski. The “L” was heading east and west at this point, just south of where the Eisenhower expressway is today. This “L” station remained in use until June 1958. Streetcar service on Fifth Avenue continued into early 1954. The Fifth Avenue line used gauntlet track on Pulaski, so as not to interfere with Pulaski streetcars. This is confirmed by studying the 1948 supervisor’s track map. Danny Joseph adds, “As a child I lived near this triangle when both Pulaski and Fifth still operated street cars and Harrison did not. I was very fascinated by the gauntlet on Pulaski which was the first time I saw such construction.” (Bob Selle Photo)
The gas stations on the triangular-shaped corner of Harrison and Fifth also match, between the late 1920s photo and this one from 1950:
This birds-eye view of CTA 1744 was taken from the Pulaski Road “L” station on the Garfield Park branch in April 1950. However, what we are looking at may actually be a Madison-Fifth car at the west end of its route, ready to loop back via Pulaski and Harrison. Bill Shapotkin adds, “This image is looking E-N/E on Fifth Ave from the Garfield Pk ‘L’…no question about it. The intersection behind the streetcar is Harrison.”
Now that we have determined where shapotkin308 was taken, it’s the presence of a late 1920s Franklin automobile that pins the date down to circa 1926-28. In 1929, the streetcar tracks on Fifth Avenue were extended around the block. Interestingly, the Franklin used an air-cooled engine, and the radiator grill on the car was simply for show. After the Franklin firm failed in 1934, it was succeeded by Aircooled Motors, which was later purchased by Preston Tucker, and provided the engines (water-cooled) for the short-lived 1948 Tucker Torpedo. Aircooled Motors survived Tucker and continued in operation until 1975, providing engines for many small airplanes and helicoptors.
CTA 6002 is southbound on Kedzie on June 22, 1950, having just passed the Garfield Park “L”. Service at this station continued until June, 1958, since it was not in the path of the Congress Expressway.
The same location today.
This could be the west end of the 75th Street route. CSL Pullmans 122, 126, and 392 are visible. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
This photo has a lot of scratches, but it does show CSL 2510 at 75th and the lakefront. Presumably the negative was scratched from being printed many times. (M. D. McCarter Photo)
CSL 5993, on the 31st Street route, is running direct to the World’s Fair (A Century of Progress), so this must be 1933-34. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
CSL 6103 is running on Through Route 17 – Kedzie. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo) Daniel Joseph: “Probably Kedzie & 30th St looking north at grade crossing.”
CSL 1942 is signed for Chicago Avenue. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 1466. This may be one of the cars that was usually used to train crews in the Van Buren Street tunnel under the Chicago River. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Daniel Joseph says, “I believe this is at 18th St, Canalport & Normal.”
CSL 3216 is signed for 51st and Central Park. M. E. writes: “Given that the destination sign reads “51 – Central Park”, then this picture was taken from the northwest corner of 51st and Cottage Grove Ave., looking south. The 51st St. line’s eastern terminal was actually at 55th St. and the Illinois Central railroad at Lake Park Ave. From there, the route headed west on 55th to Cottage Grove Ave., north to 51st St., and west on 51st St. So the car in this picture is making the turn from northbound Cottage Grove to westbound 51st.” On the other hand, Graham Garfield writes, “Note the sign on the light pole that says “4A”. Illinois route 4A was a state highway from Joliet to downtown Chicago via Archer Ave. until 1967. Based on buildings in the background that are still extant, the angled street here is Archer and the car is deadheading from Archer carbarn (where the #51 was out of) to 51st St to start its run. We are looking northeast at Archer/Kedzie.”
CTA 5444 is one of two cars at Racine and 87th Street. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 3091 is signed for Elston and Lawrence. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
CSL 3319, southbound on Damen. (Joe Diaz Photo) Daniel Joseph writes, “Probably Damen & 59th looking north at viaduct on the 5800 block.”
CSL 133 is signed for 75th and Lake Park. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Daniel Joseph adds, “Probably 75th & Constance at the now abandoned B & O crossing.”
CSL 3010 is signed for Elston-Downtown. Bill Wasik adds, “Shapotkin 294 shows the 4700 block of Elston Ave. looking north toward Lawrence Ave. The photo likely was taken in 1946-47. The large three-story commercial building seen in the distance behind the Drewrys billboard was part of the Bankers Life complex. Demolished in the 1990s, it was replaced by an apartment complex for seniors. Most of the other buildings in this scene are still standing.”
CSL 2619 is on the Brandon-Brainard line on the far reaches of Chicago’s south side. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 3303 is eastbound on Montrose, having just crossed under the Chicago & North Western and the Ravenswood “L”.
CSL 498 and 3085. I am unable to see the route signs, but at least we can tell this picture was taken in the 34th Ward. 498 is signed to go to North Western Station, which was a sign used on Milwaukee Avenue cars. Michael Franklin says we are “looking at the NW corner of Armitage & California.”
CSL 5505 is on Through Route 8, (Halsted) signed to run to Vincennes and 88th. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 2595 is on the 87th Street route, possibly prior to the extension of this line in 1937, which was the final streetcar extension in Chicago.
CSL 5083 is signed for Pitney and Archer. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 5130, signed for 31st and Lake Park, appears to be eastbound on 31st, having just passed the South Side “L”. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 1145. (Robert W. Gibson Photo)
CTA snow plow E-207. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
This is actually a picture of CTA 225 at Dearborn and Kinzie, on a December 18, 1955 fantrip, where it was disguised as 144 with a piece of oilcloth. The story goes that Maury Klebolt, who organized this trip, had advertised that car 144 would be used, and for some reason, it was not available that day. 225 was later sold to the Seashore Trolley Museum, where it remains today, while 144 is at the Illinois Railway Museum.
CTA 225 at Clark and Cermak on a February 16, 1957 Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip.
CTA 144 at 81st and Emerald on the final Chicago streetcar fantrip on June 15, 1958.
Chicago Aurora & Elgin wood car 318. Don’s Rail Photos: “318 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1914. It had steel sheating and was modernized in 1944. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society in 1962. It was wrecked in transit and the parts were sold to IRM to restore 321.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CA&E 10. Don’s Rail Photos: “10 was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was rebuilt with a baggage compartment in 1910. It was later removed, but then reinstalled in April 1933 for funeral service. It was wrecked September 10, 1948, and scrapped.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CA&E 455 at the front of a Chicago Limited. Not sure what the workers at left are doing.
CA&E electric loco 2002 is at left. I can’t make out the numbers on the steel cars at left.
CA&E 48 at left, with 315 at right. Can this be Wheaton? Don’s Rail Photos: “315 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date and sold to Rockhill Trolley Museum in 1962.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CA&E 320 at an unknown location. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CA&E 410 heads up a two-car train in Wheaton.
CA&E 409 at the Wheaton Shops.
CA&E 452 leads an Aurora-Batavia Limited.
Not sure where this is. Could it be Wheaton? Dann Chamberlin: “Yes, it is. The Wheaton yard and shops are to the rear of the photographer. The photo looks east towards downtown Wheaton. Note the tower of the DuPage County courthouse in the right-rear of the photo.”
CA&E 458 heads up a Wheaton local. Not sure where this is. Dann Chamberlin: “The train has just left the Main Street Glen Ellyn stop headed west towards Wheaton. The Main Street gate tower can be seen in the left-rear of the photo. To the right of 458 one can make out the tower of today’s Glen Ellyn Civic Center. I attended junior high school in that building!”
CA&E 459 at the front of a two-car train. Could this be Wheaton? Dann Chamberlin: “Again, yes it is. The photo looks like it could have been taken from the dispatcher’s tower. That’s the ever-present DuPage County courthouse tower in the background.”
A CA&E train of woods, headed up by car 26, at an undetermined location.
A CA&E freight train is on a siding while a regular train passes.
CA&E 460 heads up a two-car train in (I think) Maywood.
CA&E 427 is westbound at ground-level “L” station at Oak Park Avenue. The view looks northeast.
CA&E 452 and 454 at the DesPlaines Avenue terminal in Forest Park, between 1953 and 1957.
CA&E 411 heads up a westbound train on the Garfield Park “L”.
We previously ran a different version of this photo of CA&E 315 in a different post, where it was credited to Joe L. Diaz. The location appears to be somewhere between Western and Paulina on the Garfield Park “L”.
CA&E 317. (Heier Industrial Photo)
Our Latest Book, Now Available for Pre-Order:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Arcadia Publishing will release our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s on July 12, 2021. Reserve your copy today!
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
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages
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.
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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)
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Badger Traction is alive and well in Wisconsin, the Badger State. Although the Interurban era ended when the last North Shore Line train crossed the state line into Illinois in 1963, interesting things are happening here, with more to come. The new Milwaukee “starter” streetcar should be up and running in a few years.
Electric trains have run continuously between East Troy and Mukwanago, more or less, since 1907, although it was freight only from 1939 until 1973. Soon after, a museum operation began*, which unfortunately had its problems and got replaced with the current incarnation, the East Troy Electric Railroad. This is the last remaining original remnant of what was once a vast Wisconsin interurban network.
It’s been a few years since I went to East Troy, but I made the trip last weekend and as usual it was very enjoyable. The people are friendly, as they are all over Wisconsin, and the museum is headed in the right direction. Restoration work continues on various cars in their roster, their facilities have recently been improved, and they have a group of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers.
Our the way north, we made a short stop for lunch at the historic Franks Diner in Kenosha, where we spotted the Chicago tribute car out on the two-mile long loop. (See the video at the end of this post.)
Service at East Troy is usually two different trains running on an hourly basis, meeting up at a passing siding in the middle of the main line between the power house and the Elegant Farmer. This year, they are operating on an additional two miles of trackage east of the Elegant Farmer to a local park, near a lake. It’s a nice addition and makes for a picturesque ride, and the track is actually in better shape than the regular main line. (I was told they are replacing 250 ties on the main line this year.)
The day we were there, they were running the former Minneapolis car 1583, and a two-car train made up of 4000-series Chicago “L” cars. South Shore Line interurban car 30 was parked at the East Troy depot but did not operate. Still, I took a look inside and marveled at the new bucket seats that were recently installed.
The only trackage that they do not regularly operate now is a spur line to an industrial park in East Troy. I was told that this is operational, and was used last year to shuttle people back and forth when a new plant opened.
This is not a high-speed operation, being limited to 15 miles per hour. As our conductor explained, it’s more about the trip than how fast you get there.
1583 was built at Snelling Shops in May 1913 as Class L-8. It was rebuilt in 1921, one-manned in 1928, and rebuilt in 1948. In 1954 it was retired and sold for use as a cottage in northwest Wisconsin. In 1981 it was acquired and rebuilding began by Paul Averdung as Duluth-Superior Transit 253 which was an almost identical car. It now operates on the East Troy Electric Ry.
One interesting feature of the 1583 is its air horn. This sounded different depending on which direction the car was going, more like a horn one way, and a whistle the other. Yet I was told the same horn is used in both directions, although I did not try to confirm that. I made sure to record several horn blasts on the videos at the end of this post.
While in Wisconsin, we spotted some interesting vintage cars, including a 1929 Ford Model A (a “Fordor,” natch), a 1938 Pontiac Touring Sedan, and a 1953 Studebaker (see pictures below).
After our train rides, we bought an apple pie that was baked in a paper bag at the Elegant Farmer, always a good place to stop by, and then had some great burgers at Fred’s Parkview in Burlington.
However, there was one more bit of railfan serendipity on our way back south, although we did not manage to snap a picture. We drove past a steam excursion train in Fox Lake, Illinois, headed up by Nickel Plate Road 765, with an impressive array of passenger cars, including some dome cars behind it. It was just leaving town as we got there.
Here’s what I found about this steam trip:
CHICAGO, May 4, 2016 – The second weekend in June will mark an historic occasion for rail fans with the return of the Nickel Plate Road’s locomotive No. 765 to the Chicago region.
On Saturday, June 11, this 400-ton historic steam locomotive will make an appearance at Franklin Park’s annual Railroad Daze festival followed by its first public excursion trip in the Chicago region in more than 20 years on Sunday, June 12.
Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive no. 765 will be on live-steam display for visitors to Franklin Park’s Railroad Daze from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 11. On Sunday, June 12, No. 765 will pull “The Varsity” an exclusive roundtrip excursion train between The Glen of North Glenview stop on Metra’s Milwaukee North Line and Janesville, Wis. The train will also stop for passengers at Metra’s Fox Lake Station.
“The Varsity” will feature vintage passenger cars from the 1930s-1950s and will include accommodations in standard coach, deluxe coach, and first class and dome car. Tickets can be ordered online or by calling 888-718-4253. Additional information and frequently asked questions can be read at fortwaynerailroad.org/faq.
“We are thrilled to bring the dramatic sights and sounds of no. 765 to the region,” said Bill Otter, president of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society (FWRHS). “We could not be more fortunate to be working with Metra, the Village of Franklin Park, the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad and the Iowa Pacific to bring this type of experience to thousands of area residents.”
Owned and operated by the FWRHS, no. 765 has operated passenger excursions and public exhibitions throughout the Midwest since 1979. The locomotive and train attract passengers from around the world for numerous sell-out excursions throughout the year. No. 765 was originally built in 1944, restored in 1979 and completely rebuilt in 2005 and is maintained by an all-volunteer crew.
“There is nothing like the sights, sounds and mechanical marvels of a steam locomotive in mainline service! Please join us as we relive a past era of railroading in the Chicago area, and throughout America. Welcome aboard!” stated R.R. Conway, Senior Trainmaster, Metra.
“The Varsity” will operate over the route of its Milwaukee Road namesake train, which originally ran between Chicago and Madison, Wis., until 1971. The No. 765’s excursion June 12 will be the first by a steam locomotive over portions of the route since 1953.
The visit to Railroad Daze and the excursion trip to Janesville are operated in partnership with Metra, the Village of Franklin Park, Wisconsin and Southern Railroad, Iowa Pacific and the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society (FWRHS). In addition, the Indiana Harbor Belt and Norfolk Southern Corp are assisting in the logistics and transportation of No. 765 to and from the events.
The operation and ongoing maintenance of No. 765 is supported by donations, ticket sales and a membership base of around 1,000 supporters.
“These types of operations are incredibly complex, involving countless parties, organizations, railroads and individuals. All of them prove crucial to inspiring people with the power of the 765,” added Otter.
Additional excursions for No. 765 will be announced later this season.
The main line runs southwest from Mukwonago to East Troy.
The old station in East Troy serves as a museum.
South Shore Line 30, which was built in 1926. In museum service, its pantograph has been replaced by a pole.
Car 30 has new seats. I don’t recall it ever looking this good on the South Shore Line.
The proprietor of the local ice cream parlor in East Troy is an avid supporter of the museum.
A nice looking 1953 Studebaker at East Troy.
The 4000s head into a siding so we can proceed on the single track line.
The Beulah stop once led to a popular resort that burned down in 1911.
A visitor from Scotland helps change the poles.
The new end of the line.
The new end of the line.
The new end of the line.
The new end of the line.
At the Elegant Farmer.
Chicago Rapid Transit 4420 and 4453 at the Elegant Farmer.
The Elegant Farmer is always a good place to stop for a homemade apple pie, baked in a paper bag.
A stunning 1929 Ford Model A at Kopp’s Custard in Greenfield, Wisconsin. (Diana Koester Photo)
(Diana Koester Photo)
The dog makes this picture. I think the owner said his names is Johnny. (Diana Koester Photo)
A 1938 Pontiac Touring Sedan in Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Fred’s Parkview in Burlington, Wisconsin has great hamburgers.
NKP 765 at the Edgebrook Metra station on June 12, 2016. (Melvin Bernero Photo)
In this mid-1950s view, Village of East Troy Railway freight motor M-15 is shown here in East Troy, Wisconsin, near the power station which now serves as the waiting room for the East Troy Electric Railroad museum operation. It was built by TMER&L in 1920 and is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Walter Broschart Photo)
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Perhaps the best way of remembering Don Leistikow is in his own words. Here is a sampling of his writing, taken from public forums and private correspondence with this author:
About growing up:
I grew up in Wauwatosa, a close suburb of Milwaukee.
68th and Bluemound Road, is midway between the Route 10 and its split destinations in Wauwatosa and West Allis. My Father lost his automobile and never bought another one. Therefore, as a Great Depression child, I grew up riding streetcars. Local Transit was just too good.
My favorite cars were the big 50 foot, Deck Roofed 500’s, weighing in at 59000 lbs. They were assigned to Routes 10, 14 and 15. Base service on Route 10 were cars 530-549, with some variation from time to time, however, supplementing them, were cars 500-510 and 586-599, as rush-hour Trippers.
We knew of the Rapid Transit westside lines but, were unaware of their Local Service until relatives told us of it. So, we began to ride the Rapid Transit with a running time 68th to Downtown in only eleven minutes, compared with the surface lines schedule of some 25 minutes.
Transportation in those days was largely inbound in the morning and outbound in the late afternoon. I once rode downtown on an errand for my Mother and came back on an empty 1100 class car. With only 7 blocks of street running before achieving the private right of way, I disembarked at 68th street, in seven minutes, flat. Those big 1100’s would top out at some 75 mph and did have Field Tappers to achieve that speed.
My stories about the Rapid Transit Lines, and its history, are without end. It was the third fastest scheduled interurban line in the US. Wish it was still around, today!
About being a Speedrail motorman:
My interests are in rolling stock which ran in Milwaukee. I spotted an EASTON LIMITED pix in your email. As you may be aware, two of them (1100 and 1102) came to Milwaukee’s last interurban operation, SPEEDRAIL.
The 1102 was refurbished in the backshop of the Terminal and was repainted at the then TMER&T Cold Spring Shops.
Actually, I did hire out as a motorman during SPEEDRAIL’s operation. As Badge 9 (missing from my home) I was the last Operator to be trained on the old 1100 heavyweights of TMER&L Rapid Transit Lines. I did put in some time on the D 21 Line Car and the then Carload Freight motor, 1142.
Am always looking for more pix, sometimes finding me, in the photo.
About the Speedrail collision:
Briefly, Trackage Rights were held by schedules. Any crew retained those rights for up to, five minutes later than the scheduled time. Being later than that, required the crew to ‘phone-in’, on Company private phone lines. strung along the tracks. All other (Extra) trains, were required to obtain ‘Train Orders’ from the Dispatcher, located in the PSB Terminal in Milwaukee.
Early on, the then popular Nachod Signal Company of Louisville, set up their White and Red illuminated signals, to provide additional protection on single track lines. These were not Block Signals but were Permissive or Stop signal aspects.
This system was in place between passing sidings, which were ‘Home Free’ spaces. Company phones were installed at each and every siding. For the record, these Nachod Signals could hold 12 counts meaning that following cars could enter a WHITE permissive signal block by counting in, and then as each car was counted out at the next Siding, no cars waiting in said siding, could enter in the opposiite direction, until all opposing counts were satisfied.
When no cars were in the single track block, the Nachod Signals were DARK, at both ends.
Such was the setting, on the day of the most horrible accident. Neither train saw the other as they met on a reverse and elevated curve, centered on National Avenue, former STH 15.
As that date was my day off, 9/2/50, I hurried out there to observe the situation. From the Greenfield Avenue bridge over the mainline double tracks, I could see the first Nachod Signal, just past the West Junction landing, where the single track HC line began. It was WHITE.
That meant that the companion opposing signal at Oklahoma Siding was RED.
After the accident was cleaned up, various persons of knowledge were on hand to test the Nachod Signals. They were found to be in perfect working order.
Not generally known, is that when a car enters a RED Nachod Block, a count must be entered. Physically, the RED aspect will drop out, a WHITE aspect will appear as the count was recorded. Then the WHITE aspect will drop out and the former RED aspect will return.
Testimony in court substantiated a WHITE aspect was observed. True, but that WHITE did not stay lit. It dropped out.
Speedrail did have insurance, expensive as it was.
About how interurbans reached Kenosha:
The original Kenosha Electric Street Railway was Chartered in 1892. Although some rail had been laid, the company failed in 1897 and the existing rails were torn up. In 1900, Bion J. Arnold, an electrical engineer, obtained a franchise in the name of the Kenosha Street Railway for a new line, and construction began.
On June 19th, 1901, the Chicago, Kenosha & Milwaukee Electric Railway Company (a subsidiary of C&ME) and B. J. Arnold, President of the Kenosha Street Railway, signed an agreement making KSR a subsidiary of CK&MERy.
In November 1905, the C&ME (North Shore) purchased the Kenosha Electric Railway from Bion J. Arnold, thus securing the Kenosha operation to the parent company. TMER&L then acquired the Kenosha property from the C&ME in 1912, thus securing it as a TMER&L entity and anchoring Kenosha to their system.
This short history is no less complicated. The original MR&K was chartered on January 15th of 1896. Articles of Incorporation were filed on August 8th of 1896 in Racine County. On March 1st of 1899, North American, the holding company which included TMER&L, purchased the line and assigned it to the Milwaukee Light, Heat & Traction Company. This was the entity that was to build the far reaching Interurban lines emanating from Milwaukee. Sometime later, this regional property came under the purview of Wisconsin Gas & Electric Company.
As for TMER&L Company, about 1938, they split the operations into Wisconsin Electric Power Company (electric power generation and distribution) and The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Company (TMER&T), a wholly owned subsidiary which, although available for sale, had no buyers.
Said arrangement continued through WW 2 and TMER&T became available again thereafter, finally being sold off to an industrialist operating city transit services in Indianapolis and Louisville. Said property then became the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Company (M&ST).
Somewhere along the line of mergers, the Milwaukee Gas Light Company was acquired by WEPCO.
Today, WEPCO is known as WeEnergies.
About highways and transit:
The attitude up here in Wisconsin about funding for Transit appears to be, “We’ll study it” whereas, funding for Highways appears to be, “How much do you want”?
The ironic part of funding for Highways and Freeways is that there is no way to account for Origin & Destination of all of that traffic. Several times, I have related that Highways/Freeways induce population sprawl. In areas where Rail Transit Systems exist, the findings are that the public is attracted to Central Business Districts which in turn, bring development and monetary flow remaining in the immediate area.
Furthermore, studies of ground traffic have found that the highest cost of surface transportation is; a lone driver, in his automobile, on a Freeway.
Conversely, the cost of transportation by area Rail Transit comes in at 70% of the above and has a life expectancy of some 50 years before replacement.
Wisconsin remains dedicated to the Automobile and Truck vehicles and its fuel supply, as Gasoline and Diesel fuel costs remain uncontrollable. Meanwhile, across America, Rail Transit programs continue to surface as the return on investment is staking their economy.
There is an old saying which I quote:
“If all possible objections must first be overcome, nothing will ever be accomplished”.
Cities all across our Country, are moving toward Electric Rail Transit. When will Milwaukee and Wisconsin, join the march of transit progress?
Don’s account of how some North Shore Line cars were saved after the line’s abandonment in 1963:
CNS&M 757 and 763 were purchased off the scrap line at Rondout, Illinois by my longtime friend, Richard Kratsch.
He telephoned me, confirming his activity then stated; “What are we going to do with them”? To which I replied; “What’s this we stuff”?
After some verbal exchanges, I agreed to help and made contact with Wisconsin Electric Power HQ (ex TMER&L) and found assistance for storage at the Cold Spring Shops.
Inclusion in this activity came from Richard Heinbaugh, of the Mid-Continent Railway Museum at North Freedom, Wisconsin. They (he) had purchased CNS&M 715 and were also interested in accompanying the movement of their car to Milwaukee and beyond.
Arrangements were quickly put together to move the now three cars into Milwaukee then sending the 715 onward to North Freedom. All of this transportation would be ‘on own wheels’.
Of course, no movement of them could be entertained without an inspection by the MILW Railroad, getting their acceptance and notifying the C&NW for their clearance beyond to North Freedom.
Next, I heard from the MILW Car Department that the couplers were too low and that the wide swing of them would have to be restricted for ‘over the road’ transport. A followup conversation with their Car Inspector was to inform me that large blocks of Iron would be bolted to the circle irons and that two idler cars (which turned out to be two elderly Stock Cars, diverted from their scrap line) would be necessary to accommodate the low height of the North Shore cars.
However, an end of each car had to be dropped by four inches to meet the NSL drawbars. This was accomplished by cutting down the truck springs on one end of each Stock Car thus accommodating rules of movement.
All was not in order though, as the Terminal Superintendent in Milwaukee had not been notified of this Hospital Movement and stopped the cut of cars south of the Terminal District. Acceptance was accomplished and the movement continued into Milwaukee’s Davies Yard (the Running Repair Yard) in the Terminal close by the Falk Company in the Valley.
More special movements were made without breaking the five car string. The block of cars was sent to the lower Cold Spring Yard, intact. A cut was made to deliver the 757 and 763 which were then shoved into the entrance hold track. Then the 715 and its companion idler car were reconnected and the now 3 car cut was returned to Davies Yard.
At this point, the MILW confirmed arrangements to deliver the 715 and idler cars to the C&NW via the Menomonee Belt to Mitchell Yard. The balance of the movement to North Freedom was underway. The two idler cars were donated to Mid-Continent by the MILW.
Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee #715 1926-1963 / 1st preserved by Mid-Continent Railroad Museum 1963-1967 / later preserved by The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society 1967-1988 / Fox River Trolley Museum (South Elgin, Illinois) 1988-present
Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee #757 1930-1963 / 1st preserved by The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society ?-1988 / Illinois Railway Museum (Union, Illinois) 1988-present
Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee #763 1930-1963 / 1st preserved by The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society ?-1988 / Illinois Railway Museum (Union, Illinois) 1988-present
About the North Shore Line abandonment:
As a life-long resident of the greater Milwaukee area, I too wish that somehow, the NSL could have remained in service.
However, passenger traffic was waning. The usual four car trains, in and out of the Milwaukee Terminal, were shrinking dramatically. Off rush-hour trains were shrinking as I was witnessing single car departures, southbound. Passenger counts would attest to that as factual information, if available anywhere by anyone.
Generally, they found it necessary to cut or fill cars at Edison Court, a testimonial that ridership remained strong south of the Wisconsin-Illinois State Line. Why then, was service not retained by simply abandoning the Milwaukee Division?
Another thought; nothing was said about the Carload Freight operation. How much revenue was that service bringing in? As my career was in Industrial Traffic Management, I did route some carload freight onto the North Shore Line via Racine Junction to Waukegan and connections around Chicago, just to buy time to accommodate customer’s delivery specification while balancing production. In example, CMStP&P (Racine) CNS&M (Waukegan) EJ&E – CSS&SB – PRR to destination.
IMHO, I believe that by cutting off the Milwaukee Division, the NSL could have remained profitable, for some additional years though. Passenger counts and revenue receipts, from Edison Court and Mundelein into Chicago, would be an interesting study, even at this late date.
The North Shore Line was literally starving in Wisconsin.
Four car+ trains continued to operate after WW 2 but, as Freeways grew, North Shore revenues declined. However, revenues derived from WW 2, provided a cushion for their post war operations. As time passed, non-rush hour trains were finally operated with but one car hourly to and from Milwaukee.
Enter the Susquahanna Corp., a financial investment group, which bought into the CNS&M line. Eventually controlling the finances, those funds went into S Corp’s coffers and were used for their investment purposes, as I recall. That left day-to-day operations over budget.
Actually, had the CNS&M cut off the Wisconsin segment and continued operations from Edison Court and Mundelein, it could well have remained in business during the foreseeable future.
The final blow was it’s quick demise. As I recall, the CNS&M car 722 was undergoing a General Overhaul at that time in their Highwood Shops. That’s not something that you do, while expecting abandonment.
About the East Troy Electric Railroad:
Some confusion about the East Troy Electric Railroad. It connects with the Canadian National (former Soo Line) at Mukwonago. This is the last remaining segment of the once great TMER&L Rapid Transit Lines that hosted some 250+ miles of track on five lines. Destinations were Sheboygan, Watertown, East Troy, Burlington and Kenosha.
Because of online industries in East Troy which shipped or received Carload Freight, it was operated by ‘TM’ after the passenger service ended in 1939. Box Motor M 15, was refitted with snow plows permanently affixed on each end, plus a wooden platform centered on the roof, to service maintenance of the overhead wire.
A detailed history of the remaining Carload services and the Industries, can be found in the CERA Bulletin 112, titled “TM“.
If it is true that the Canadian National has removed the interchange switch in Mukwonago, that would be a mistake as, the East Troy Industrial Park (on a branch line) hosts several Buildings that would be quite useful as, Industries would find the Labor Market more reasonable for Carloading, Containerization and/or over the highway Trucking.
Although the East Troy Electric Railroad now owns the property, it must have inherited some form of Interstate and Wisconsin State Commerce authority, to move Freight Shipments on its tracks.
I never met Don in person, but oddly enough, I actually took a picture of him once without even realizing it, fittingly when he was buying a ticket at the East Troy Electric Railroad in 2013. You can see that picture here. He later saw it online and recognized himself.
He will be missed by all who care about the future of railroads and public transit.
PS- You can read another of Don’s stories about the classic days of steam railroading here.
Milwaukee Electric Railway (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transport Co.) car 1137, westbound on the Rapid Transit Line, 68th Street Bridge, July 22, 1949.
The tragic result of a head-on collision between two Speedrail cars on a blind curve on September 2, 1950. Heavyweight cars 1192-1193, at left, ran into lightweight articulated cars 39-40. Ten people were killed and dozens were injured.
Speedrail car 66, shown here on the Waukesha loop, was a Cincinnati “curved-side” car. It had formerly been used by both Lehigh Valley Transit and the Dayton and Troy. This car, after having been refurbished for Speedrail, was only in service for a short period of time before the line quit in 1951.