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The Liberty Liner Rides Again (and CERA News)

Friday, February 21, 2014 10:09 AM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

Our friends at Rockhill send us the following:


Rockhill Furnace, PA – The Rockhill Trolley Museum, the operating entity of Railways To Yesterday, Inc., a 501(c) (3) non-profit educational corporation, is happy to announce the return of its historic Electroliner/Liberty Liner streamlined train to operating condition.


Two of these historic trains were constructed in 1941 by the St. Louis Car Company for the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad, which provided high speed electric service from downtown Chicago to downtown Milwaukee until 1963. These trains were specially designed to provide the most modern comforts at the time yet still be capable of operating in the tight confines of the Chicago elevated railways and with automobile traffic in the streets of Milwaukee. These trains were studied by the designers of the original Japanese “Bullet” trains in the early 1960s and perhaps influenced some of the features of these trains.

Both of these historic trains were sold in 1963 to the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company of Upper Darby, PA, commonly referred to as the “Red Arrow Lines”. These trains were refurbished and returned to operation on that company’s Norristown division in January 1964 and operated in regular service until 1978. Railways To Yesterday purchased train #803-804, named “Independence Hall”, in 1982 and moved the train to Rockhill Furnace where it was returned to operating condition. The train was set aside for display-only purposes in 1996 due to significant problems with the train’s electrical control system. Museum volunteers again restored the train to operation in 2011 for a special Membership event but electrical problems again sidelined the train in 2012.

Thanks to a substantial donation, replacement control system components were assembled and more than a dozen volunteers from several museum departments worked as a team over the past four months to return the train to operating condition once again. The train made its ceremonial roll-out and first trip on Saturday evening, February 15, at an annual gathering of volunteers from many east coast trolley museums.

The museum intends to maintain the train in operable condition in the future and operate the train on special occasions. The museum is accepting donations to help defray the costs of maintaining this historic vehicle and to rebuild additional components to provide increased reliability. The museum is a 501(c) (3) non-profit educational corporation and donations are tax-deductible. If interested in donating towards this worthwhile project, please contact the POC provided below.

The Rockhill Trolley Museum is one of the oldest continuously operating trolley museums in the Middle Atlantic, having operated trolleys every year since 1962. The museum offers a very scenic three mile round trip ride along scenic Blacklog Creek. For more information on the museum, as well as information on how to contribute to museum projects, when to visit, how to become a member, or how to volunteer, please visit http://www.rockhilltrolley.org.

For additional information please contact:

Railways To Yesterday, Inc.
P.O. Box 1601
Allentown, PA 18105

POC: Matthew W. Nawn, Chairman

You can watch a video of the Liberty Liner in action here.

You can read a feature article about the Electroliners written by director J. J. Sedelmaier here.

The other Electroliner set 801-802 is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum in non-operating condition.

Here is a feature article on James F. Eppenstein, the man who styled the Electroliner’s whimsical interior.




In Memoriam

We regret to inform you of the death of longtime CERA member Neil Bjornsen. You can read more about his life and career here.

CERA Mailbag

John L. Gann Jr. writes:

The Used Book Exchange is a good idea. But why not:

1. Include number of pages in description
2. Include Railfan DVDs & VHS tapes?

Thank for writing. Our first list of used books included only CERA bulletins, since we figured our members would already be familiar with those. There is always going to be a trade-off between including more information in the descriptions, and the size of the type. If we include too many details, the type will be so small on the list that nobody could read it. Besides, details such as the number of pages in a book are readily available via the Internet.

As for your other suggestion, if people donated railfan videos to us, we will list them for sale in the future. I would think there would be more interest in DVDs than VHS tapes, however. It’s not easy today to even find a new VHS player available for sale.

The CERA Used Book Exchange has been a great success. Most of the books on our first list have already been sold. We have some titles on a waiting list.

We will send out List #2 to our members in early March, along with our usual program information. If you have traction books you would like to donate to the CERA Used Book Exchange, let us know. We would be glad to have them, and I am certain that we can find them a good home, and raise some additional money for CERA in the process. We thank all our members who have donated already.

-David Sadowski

Brian J. Patterson writes:

Great article on the Independence Hall. But let’s not forget our local Electroliner. The Illinois Railway Museum completed major restoration work on the 801-802 Electroliner shortly after obtaining it in 1981, including rust repair and restoring the 801-902 Electroliner to its CNSM configuration. The car was operated by the IRM in revenue service for several seasons on days where the weather was cool. It was withdrawn from operation after a traction motor failed during a test run being made after the failure of a different traction motor.

The Illinois Railway Museum is now conducting a major fundraiser, “The Campaign for the Electroliner 2016. The goal of “The Campaign for the Electroliner 2016″ is to quickly raise $500,000 or more, enabling us to complete full electromechanical restoration of our 801-802 Electroliner and open it for riding by the general public prior to the ind of the 2016 operating season. 2016 is the 75th anniversary of the delivery of the two Electroliner trainsets to the Chicago, North Shore, and Milwaukee railroad.

This restoration will include fresh rebuild of all eight traction motors, restoration of both HVAC systems to full operation, and numerous other equipment failures and “near failures” repairs to allow reliable full revenue service during our operating seasons.

The below link will take you to the Campaign’s Facebook page:

The below link will take you to the IRM Online store, allowing you to donate to the Campaign in $25 increments:

Checks and money orders should be made payable to “Illinois Railroad Museum” with “Campaign for the Electroliner” endorsed in the memo or for field and mailed to:

Illinois Railway Museum
7000 Olson Rd
PO Box 427
Union, IL 60180

The Illinois Railway Museum is a 501(c)(3) charity, and all donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Rita McCabe writes:

Our environmental organization is hosting the below program tomorrow. Thought your members might be interested. Sorry it is so late, but just found out about your group.

Streetcars of Toronto
Sunday, February 23 – 2pm

Streetcar aficionado/storyteller Jack Doyle will share his knowledge of streetcars and his summer experiences in Toronto, Canada. Toronto has the largest, most efficient streetcar system in North America. This “green” system enjoys high satisfaction ratings from its many users and is hailed as a model for cities looking to cut back their Co2 output. An excellent photographer, Jack has slides showcasing streetcars throughout Toronto. Questions and refreshments will follow. LaGrange Park Library, 555 N LaGrange Rd. For more information call, 708-354-5512; visit http://www.savetheprairiesociety.org

Located north of Ogden Ave. ( 34 ) and south of 31st Street, it is on the east side of LaGrange Road (Mannheim).


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