Central Electric 
Railfans' Association

Obituary for Alan R. Lind

Tuesday, June 30, 2015 11:58 AM | John Nicholson (Administrator)

Alan R. Lind

1940 – 2015

We were saddened to learn of the passing of noted transportation historian and former CERA director Alan R. Lind of Park Forest on May 30, 2015, at the age of 75. Mr. Lind was the co-author of From Zephyr to Amtrak (1972) and Monarchs of Mid-America (1973). He was the author of From Horsecars to Streamliners (1978), but is probably best remembered among traction enthusiasts for Chicago Surface Lines: An Illustrated History. First published in 1974, it was revised and expanded over the years culminating in an all-encompassing third edition issued in 1979.

For a city that once boasted the world’s largest streetcar system under one management, there had been surprisingly little material published about Chicago’s streetcars. In 1964 James D. Johnson published A Century of Chicago Streetcars, a nostalgic look at Chicago’s system through the photographs of Tom Desnoyers (credited as “Thomas Hollister” in the book). Published only six years after Chicago’s last streetcar ran, this was largely a photo album that appealed to both the ardent fan and the casual reader whose memories of the cars in their neighborhoods and their daily lives were still fresh. 

Mr. Lind’s work on Chicago’s streetcars was much greater in scope. The first edition appeared in 1974, twenty years after the last of the red car lines had been converted to bus. Not so much a narrative history, it provided a detailed account of practically every component of the Chicago Surface Lines. Written for the serious fan (or “rivet counter” in railfan argot) one found valuable information on all types of Chicago streetcars, their routes, route histories, carbarns, shops, and other facilities. For decades this has been the “go to” book for the Chicago streetcar enthusiast.

Mr. Lind passed away three weeks before the 57th anniversary of the closing of the last streetcar line in Chicago. Many of us who rode these last streetcars as children are now collecting social security and most of the adults who took us on these rides are no longer with us. Alan Lind’s major contribution was to collect and present this wealth of information on Chicago’s streetcars, preserving it for the enjoyment and education of both the traction fan and serious transit historian. Because of Mr. Lind’s efforts, both old and young readers can marvel at the size and magnificence of this once vast streetcar network. The older ones can take satisfaction at having ridden on these cars while the younger ones will wish they had.  

Alan Lind will be missed by all of us.

John Nicholson

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