A not-for-profit technical & educational society, established in 1938



We were happy to see at least 282 viewers on our Jan. 22 program about the North Shore Line. The roughly two hour program is now available to view by following this link.

We will share details of the February 12, 2021 Zoom program soon. Keep an eye out for that notice and more in the days to come.

Remembering railfans Jeff Wien and Charles Stats

We lost two long-time CERA members in early January. Please see our memories of them on this page.



David Wilson takes us on a trip to New York City in this recorded Zoom program.

CERA presents the Friday, Nov. 13 recording of Patrick Reardon's history of The Loop: The "L" Tracks That Shaped and Saved Chicago. The edited video of the program is now live.

Ray DeGroote's October railfanning in Hungary and the Czech Republic, is also available.

And from John Nicholson comes September's presentation ofthe Chicago South Shore and South Bend.

If you’d like to present a program with CERA via Zoom, contact us. We can scan your photos or slides and format them into a PowerPoint program for presentation.


Please take a moment to renew your CERA membership for 2021! Or join us for the first time!

It is only through our members' support that we can bring you the programs, events, books and other media that keeps the history of electric rail alive!

Our simple membership form is available at the JOIN link above. You may pay electronically, or print out a form and send it to us.

Also, if anyone has any rail transit news to pass along to the membership, please send it along to us with any accompanying images you might have to ceraoffice@gmail.com. This is your website and we can all participate to make it interesting and exciting to all.


We are saddened to report the loss of two longtime CERA members, Jeffrey Wien and Charles Stats, both of whom passed away during the first full week of January 2021.

CERA benefitted greatly through the talents each member brought to the organization. When one has socialized with these people on a regular basis for several decades, it is difficult to accept that they are no longer with us. Yet their memories and a record of their contributions to our organization will endure.


Jeff Wien was born in April 1941 and spent his formative years in Evanston where he attended both Evanston Township High School (class of 1959) and Northwestern University (class of 1963).

 Growing up where he did, Jeff developed an early interested in streetcars, the “L,” and interurbans. Jeff rode the last Chicago streetcar on June 21, 1958, and made a memorable film of the event. He was also aboard the last southbound North Shore Line train on January 21, 1963, where he and his sister Helen Jo were interviewed and filmed by WTMJ-TV. (Through the efforts of MCERA Scott Greig, a digital copy of this film was found and given to Jeff, which he treasured). 

Jeff spent the summer of 1961 in the employ of the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railway as a ticket seller working primarily at their main Chicago station at 223 South Wabash Avenue. There was a jukebox in the station where the popular songs of the era were played. Every time Jeff heard “Runaway” by Del Shannon, he thought back to that special summer when he was a North Shore employee. While he was with the North Shore, Jeff made arrangements to film the line’s right-of-way from the rear platform of a southbound limited. The film provides an excellent record of the interurban in its final summer of operation.

After serving four years in the Navy as a Lieutenant (1963-1967), Jeff embarked upon his career as an accountant. From 1956 on, he was a member of CERA and very active with the group, serving many years as a board member. Jeff was also involved in CERA’s publications and his attention to detail was appreciated in the planning of various fantrips. He was a prolific photographer, both movies and still photos. Most of his efforts are preserved in the Wien-Criss Archive which he established with his late partner Bradley Criss. Jeff believed in photographing electric railways only when conditions were bright and sunny, which was also an apt description of his optimistic outlook on life. He was not always 100% optimistic, as he was a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan where optimism was usually trumped by sad reality. As a friend he was generous and loyal, ready to share his love of traction, old movies, and history. Somehow we feel that where Jeff is, it will always be bright and sunny, and North Shore trains still run every hour on the hour.

--John Nicholson


In the early hours of Monday, January 4, 2021, Charles Stats, a long-time friend, mentor and quintessential definition of the word "mensch" passed away.

Charles was born December 21, 1933 and although in the hospital, had just recently celebrated his 87th Birthday. He had suffered several strokes and at least one hip injury over the last several months.

A life-long Chicagoan, Charles went to college in Decatur, IL (commuting home on the WABASH on weekends). He served (at Uncle Sam's request) in the Army in the late 1950s-early 1960s, spending most of that time in Alaska. While there he did research on railroading in "The Last Frontier."

While a licensed lawyer, he spent most of his working career in the General Accounting Office. He also had a history (no pun intended) as a rail and transit historian. He wrote numerous articles for NORTH WESTERN LINES (C&NW Historical Society) and the SOO (Soo Line Historical and Technical Society) as well as others.

I met Charles some 47 years ago. He was President (or at least presided over the monthly meetings) of the Chicago Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society. Being active in the archives of the Chicago & North Western Historical Society, he often hunted down photographic and written documentation for me on my favorite non-electric railroad -- the C&NW. He was kind enough to allow me to tag along with him on numerous railroad historical society gatherings (primarily the CB&Q, C&NW and MILW) and a number of photo excursions. Although I do hold a Driver's License, I do not drive myself due to vision problems (primarily depth perception). Charles was most kind in taking me along.

After retirement, in December 2015, I became involved with the C&NW Historical Society Archives. Charles offered to both pick me up and drop me off at the end of the 'L' every Tuesday -- as well as drive me to and from the restaurant where the volunteers had lunch. Did did not have to do this, not by any means -- there is a PACE bus which would drop me off/pick me up just one block away from the archives...he was just that kind of guy.

Not only have I personally lost a long-time friend, but the rail transportation enthusiast community has lost a long-time friend and dedicated archivist, researcher and writer. It was an honor and privilege to have known and later worked with Charles. Rest in Piece my friend, you will be missed.

--William Shapotkin

Upcoming Programs


Copyright 2018 Central Electric Railfans' Association. All Right Reserved 

Central Electric Railfans' Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  P.O. Box 503, Chicago, IL  60690

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software