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

Upcoming Programs

  • Friday, June 14, 2024, 7:00 PM CT zoom

What's new at CERA?

CERA Zoom Programs June 2024

Friday, June 14, 2024

7:00 PM Zoom Presentation

San Diego Electric Railway

Presented by Harvey Laner

Zoom Meeting number 814 9251 7167

Passcode 880028


This program is open to everyone

This program follows the amazing story of how John D. Spreckels and his brother Adolph created the San Diego Electric Railway. John Spreckels’ arrival in San Diego was during the boom of the 1880s and he began his investments in the area then. The path to the creation of the San Diego Electric Railway was one of buying and consolidating the many prior attempts to form a street railway to support the growing San Diego community. By September 21, 1892, enough of the pieces had been assembled and the San Diego Electric Railway began operations.

San Diego Electric Railway’s fascinating roster is well covered. It initially included a mix of homemade and purchased cars, then the unsuccessful 1920 and 1922 Railroad Commission mandated Birneys, followed by the very successful 50 new, 400 series closed steel cars from American Car Company in 1923 that served the Company well until the end of streetcar service in April of 1949. San Diego Electric Railway introduced the west coast’s first PCCs going into service on July 12, 1937. Then there were the secondhand cars. Two from the Glendale & Montrose and a mix of cars from Utah Light and Traction Company in Salt Lake City, Sixteen cars from Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and two lots of ancient wooden cars from the 3rd Ave Railway System of New York City. These problematic cars were desperately needed to add capacity for the war emergency.

There was also the purchase of a used Baldwin-Westinghouse 50-ton motor for switching and freight service on the Beaches, La Jolla Line

The routes and history of all lines are covered as well as the

Panama-California Exposition of 1915. The program then moves to a brief look at the renaissance of rail based transit in San Diego with the 1975 establishment of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit Development Board (MTDB) and the July 26, 1981 introduction of light rail service from downtown to the Mexican border. The program concludes with rare video scenes of the initial service taken by Harvey Laner, featuring the then-new Siemans-Duewag model U2 light rail vehicles.

Comming soon

Friday, June 28, 2024

Birth and Growth of the

Illinois Railway Museum 

7:00 PM by Norman Ktentel Live, In Person Only

899 S. Plymouth Court

Chicago, IL


If not, visit the "Join" section of the CERA website where you can renew online or print off a renewal form to send back in the mail.

Thank you for your continued support.


Questions? Send us an email at ceraoffice@gmail.com



The latest CERA book, Bulletin 152, is no longer available. Due to its popularity only a few are left and those are being reserved for CERA Members who had not renewed their 2019 Memberships but are now doing so!

If a reorder for more books is placed news of that will be displayed here.

A companion piece to B-145, Transit in the Triangle Volume 2 continues "A Century Look at Pittsburgh Public Transit" covering the Port Authority Years from 1964 to 2014. 

It has being shipped as a benefit of membership to all who were members in 2019.

We also have books in hand at our Chicago offices and are ready to send them. Please click on Buy a Book to order.


It's that time of year again. Please send your 2024 dues renewal in today. And if you're not a member, what are you waiting for?

Since 1938, Central Electric Railfans’ Association has presented programs, published books, and hosted fan trips.

In 2023 CERA continued its successful online programs on Zoom, offering both “open-to-all” Zoom programs and programs marketed exclusively to members and prospective members. We also returned to our in-person programming at a new location and hosted a fan trip to the Fox River Trolley Museum and Illinois Railway Museum as part of our 85th Anniversary Weekend.

We very proudly edited, published and produced the critically received Transit in the Triangle, Volume 2 which was mailed to all of our 2019 Members. Our goal now is to get out two books in the next 16 months to 2020 and 2021 members!! 

We plan on making 2024 even better. Look forward to new things on Zoom and in our in-person programming, news on upcoming CERA-penned books and other featured products in our store and special deals on older titles in our inventory.

Please consider contributing to these efforts by renewing your membership, or becoming a new member. You can pay for your membership by check or credit card and online via our web site: www.cera-chicago.org/join. We accept PayPal.

CERA 2024 members will receive a hardbound book on an electric railway subject as a membership benefit. You can count on our publications to continue a long tradition of excellence in historical and contemporary electric railway research, while also being both informative and entertaining.

Questions? Send us an email at ceraoffice@gmail.com

Remember, CERA's second Friday of the month Zoom programs are open to all.

But we'd still love to have you as a member. If you aren't a member, please consider joining and visit https://cera-chicago.org/join

Or let us know by email if you have questions at:


For more railfan programming listings, visit:

Please consider donating to CERA. Our members and non-members alike help us keep providing monthly programming, annual books, periodic trips and events and more. Simply click on the donate button.



Come and join your fellow CERA members and invited members of other rail associations for a wonderful day trip from Chicago (or anywhere else) to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a morning and/or afternoon of riding the HOP also called The Milwaukee Streetcar through downtown Milwaukee. 

See this: WWW.TheHOPmke.com   

for more HOP Information.

Most of us will be departing from Chicago’s Union Station on either:

The 8:25 AM train (Glenview 8:47 AM)  arriving in Milwaukee at 9:54 AM


The 11:05 AM train (Glenview 11:27 AM) arriving in Milwaukee at 12:34 PM

Fares range from $18-$22 each way for seniors

Everyone then is on their own or with friends to travel on the HOP connection right there at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station. Take the early AMTRAK and explore Milwaukee early in the day or as most of us are doing take the later train and spend the afternoon in downtown Milwaukee.

We will all meet at 1:00 PM at the Milwaukee Public Market at Broadway and St. Paul Ave. right on the HOP route for a CERA group photo opportunity.

Going back to the Chicago area you can depart from the Milwaukee Intermodal Station and take AMTRAK on either:

The 3:00 PM train arriving Glenview at 4:01 PM  and Union Station at 4:29 PM; or

The 5:45 PM train arriving Glenview at 6:46 PM  and Union Station at 7:14 PM; or

The 7:35 PM train arriving Glenview at 8:36 PM  and Union Station at 9:04     

Fares range from $18-$22 each way for seniors

For the more adventurous spend the night in Milwaukee and make a weekend out of it !

To go on the trip please let the CERA Executive Director, Elmer Haneberg, know so we can get an idea of how many of us will be going. Call or text him at 773-972-0470, email him at either CERAOffice@gmail.com  or ElmerHaneberg@gmail.com

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

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