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  • Saturday, July 13, 2013 1:38 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    This has been a year of unusual reroutes on the CTA rapid transit system. A few months ago, we reported on Brown Line trains running in the State Street subway while the Wells Street bridge was rebuilt. Now, it’s the subway’s turn to be diverted onto the “L”.

    For five months (starting last May), the CTA Dan Ryan portion of the Red Line is being rerouted onto the South Side “L”, while the expressway median trackage is being completely rebuilt. Your roving reporter took a trip out to 95th to check out how things are progressing.

    Shuttle buses at Garfield (Green Line).

    Shuttle buses at Garfield (Green Line).

    Riders (CTA calls them “customers” nowadays, but I like the old terminology) seem to be taking things in stride, and the reroute and shuttle bus operation appears to be running smoothly. Thankfully, the disaster some expected has not come to pass.

    The CTA Howard and Dan Ryan lines were joined in 1993 when a new mile-long subway connection opened. Previously, Howard trains exited the subway south of Roosevelt and proceeded up a ramp to rejoin the South Side “L”.

    The South Side “L” runs parallel to most of the Dan Ryan line, and only a few blocks away. However, the Ryan line was not meant to replace the Englewood and Jackson Park lines, which were among the system’s busiest prior to 1969. Opening the new line did siphon off most of this traffic.

    When the decision was made that the Ryan line needed to be completely rebuilt from the ground up, CTA thankfully could make use of this underutilized capacity on the South Side “L”. So, until October, Red Line and Green Line trains are sharing the “L”, resulting in some hot rails indeed. Subway trains are once again going up and down the ramp to the “L”, 20 years after they last did so.

    Our trip began at Roosevelt Road, with photo stops at the nearby subway portal and Indiana Avenue. We got off at Garfield and took one of the free express shuttle buses to 95th, then reversed course.

    Compliments go out to the CTA for the smoothness and efficiency of this operation. Interestingly, in order to make up for the inconvenience of the shuttle operation, CTA is allowing free rides for anyone boarding at Garfield, regular riders and diverted ones alike.

    There were reports early on that regular Green Line riders were letting Red Line trains pass, even though they go to many of the same places, while others were riding slower local buses like the #29 instead of the quicker shuttles. But I am sure that as the public got used to the situation, these issues were minimized.

    More and more service on the Red Line is being handled by the new 5000s, while we happily note that a pair of retired 2200s has just arrived at the Illinois Railway Museum. It will seem a bit odd to see them fitted with trolley poles, but we look forward to seeing them run in next year’s Trolley Pageant there. Meanwhile, there are still some 2200s in service on the Blue Line. Out with the old and in with the new.

    -David Sadowski

    Note: All photos were taken by the author on July 12, 2013.

    Green Line trains are sharing the South Side "L" for five months with the Red Line while the Dan Ryan portion is being rebuilt.

    Green Line trains are sharing the South Side “L” for five months with the Red Line while the Dan Ryan portion is being rebuilt.

    A Red Line train emerges from the subway just south of Roosevelt Road.

    A Red Line train emerges from the subway just south of Roosevelt Road.

    A northbound Red Line train going down the ramp into the State Street subway.

    A northbound Red Line train going down the ramp into the State Street subway.

    A Red Line train using older equipment heads south at Indiana Avenue.

    A Red Line train using older equipment heads south at Indiana Avenue.

    The Red Line meets the Green Line at Indiana.

    The Red Line meets the Green Line at Indiana.

    REd Line 5000s heading south at Indiana, near where the Stockyards and Kenwood branches once split off from the main line.

    REd Line 5000s heading south at Indiana, near where the Stockyards and Kenwood branches once split off from the main line.

    Transfers to shuttle buses at Garfield are fast and convenient.

    Transfers to shuttle buses at Garfield are fast and convenient.

    The R95 shuttle runs non-stop between Garfield on the Green Line and 95th/Dan Ryan. There are similar buses going direct to other closed Dan Ryan stations.

    The R95 shuttle runs non-stop between Garfield on the Green Line and 95th/Dan Ryan. There are similar buses going direct to other closed Dan Ryan stations.

    Apparently, this is the last remaining original station building on the South Side "L" (at Garfield).

    Apparently, this is the last remaining original station building on the South Side “L” (at Garfield).

    The CTA's Englewood branch crosses the Dan Ryan and continues west to Ashland. The line originally ended at Loomis, but was extended about two blocks west to a more logical termination point in 1969, the same year service began on the Dan Ryan median line.

    The CTA’s Englewood branch crosses the Dan Ryan and continues west to Ashland. The line originally ended at Loomis, but was extended about two blocks west to a more logical termination point in 1969, the same year service began on the Dan Ryan median line.

    Boarding area at 95th for the shuttle bus to Garfield (55th) on the Green Line.

    Boarding area at 95th for the shuttle bus to Garfield (55th) on the Green Line.

    Rebuilding work in progress at 95th/Dan Ryan.

    Rebuilding work in progress at 95th/Dan Ryan.


  • Wednesday, July 10, 2013 1:41 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)
    A "colorized" version of one of the Chicago Subway postcards from our earlier post. 3-D glasses not included.

    A “colorized” version of one of the Chicago Subway postcards from our earlier post. 3-D glasses not included.

    Today we take up where we left off in our earlier post about the building of Chicago’s “Initial System of Subways.” We now tend to take the subways for granted, but there was a time when they were quite newsworthy.

    Apparently some portion of the new subway was dug out by hand using long knives, in much the same fashion as the old Chicago Tunnel Company system of decades before.

    Apparently some portion of the new subway was dug out by hand using long knives, in much the same fashion as the old Chicago Tunnel Company system of decades before.

    Chicago’s Subway Being Dug With Knives

    Chicago- Because Chicago’s subway is being dug at a depth of 35 feet, where there is clay instead of rock, it is being dug with knives. A curved blade about a foot long, with a handle at each end, is held by two men while a third pushes the knife downward to slice off a long strip of clay. A carload of the stripped clay is shown above being taken from the tunnel. (January 10, 1939)

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    Chicago Builds a Subway

    Hailed as the most pretentious civic undertaking since Chicago shook off the ashes of the Great Fire, a $40,000,000 subway system is being tunneled beneath the city. Sandhogs are digging at a rate of 30 feet a day and should reach the end of the first unit –7.5 miles- of tunnel by July 1, 1940. This picture shows a subway worker hauling out a load of clay in the subway dump train. (August 27, 1939)

    There could be a long wait for the next train, especially since the tracks haven't been laid yet.

    There could be a long wait for the next train, especially since the tracks haven’t been laid yet.

    Chicago Gets a Subway

    Chicago- The dream of Chicago officials for years– a subway system to relieve traffic congestion around the Loop– is rapidly approaching reality. Here are several views of the city’s new subways as they appear today, well on the way toward completion. Wartime priorities may delay the opening, however, since steel needed for rails and cars must be used to arm America instead. Mrs. Leroy Post, left, and Mrs. C. L. Mann, right, both of Evanston, pictured in this view of the State Street tube hope to be able to board a train at this platform someday, however. (January 31, 1942)

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    Except for rails, this section of the State Street line of Chicago’s new subway system is virtually completed. At the left is part of the Clybourn-North Avenue station platform. (January 31, 1942)

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    This partially-completed subway lies under the Chicago River and is the first part of the State Street line. Workmen at the left are installing conduits for third rail power distribution. (January 31, 1942)

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    Escalators will save Chicago’s subway riders the task of walking up long flights of steps. A future subway strap-hanger shown here doubtless wishes the escalator at the right was completed instead of being only framework after trudging up the temporary steps at the left. (January 31, 1942)

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    A future subway rider tries out the temporary station control equipment at a station on the State Street line. Soon he and thousands of other Chicagoans will be dropping coins into turnstiles such as this for their underground ride. This and other stations will have structural glass columns, concrete floors scored in a tile pattern and fluorescent lighting. (January 31, 1942)

    The new CTA 6000s were featured on the cover of CERA Bulletin 92, as one of the "new developments of 1950."

    The new CTA 6000s were featured on the cover of CERA Bulletin 92, as one of the “new developments of 1950.”

    Read CERA’s 1950 article introducing the 6000s here as a PDF file.

    Here come the 6000s.

    Here come the 6000s.



    CTA Trial Run, New Train Gets the Highball

    Motorman Charles R. Blade, 59, of 1740 Grace, who is with the company 39 years, looks out of his cockpit. He is ready for return trip downtown, pix taken at Logan Square Terminal. (August 16, 1950)

    Changes

    While the State Street subway opened in October 1943 using 455 4000-series steel “L” cars, the newest of which were already 19 years old, the Dearborn subway got brand-new equipment. CTA ordered 130 new 6000-series PCC rapid transit cars in 1949, and began taking delivery on them the following year. This was considered the number needed to operate the Logan Square and Humboldt Park lines via the new Milwaukee-Dearborn subway. However, things did not work out that way.

    Shortly before the new subway opened on February 25, 1951, the CTA Board voted to discontinue service on the Humboldt Park branch, which was deemed unworthy of receiving new 6000s. Humboldt Park riders were encouraged to ride the North Avenue trolley bus instead, a rare instance of CTA giving precedence to the surface system over the rapid in this era. Neighborhood opposition succeeded in saving the line from abandonment for a time, but only as a shuttle operation using some of the oldest equipment on the CTA system. Predictably, the inconvenient shuttle was short-lived and service on the Humboldt Park branch ended on May 4, 1952.

    Similarly, while the junction between the new Milwaukee-Dearborn subway and the old Paulina Met “L” was intended to be permanent, not temporary, CTA decided to discontinue service on the “L” portion as soon as the subway opened. This is understandable, since the subway provided a much shorter and direct path downtown. However, it would have been possible to continue Humboldt Park service downtown via the old routing, while Logan Square trains used the subway.

    To do so, however, would have complicated Garfield Park service over the temporary ground-level Van Buren Street trackage that was used from 1953-58. One reason for opening the Milwaukee-Dearborn subway, even as a stub-end line terminating at LaSalle Street, was to reduce the number of Met “L” trains that would have to use the temporary trackage. Eventually, CTA found it only needed 80 6000s to operate Milwaukee-Dearborn. In late 1952, even these were shifted away to the much busier State Street subway, and Logan Square received the older 4000s instead.

    Meanwhile, CTA did not tear down the Paulina “L” structure until 1964, leaving it as a single-track service connection that was traversed by at least one CERA fantrip. And only half of the Humboldt Park branch was demolished right away. Supposedly, the remaining portion would have been used as a storage yard for Chicago Aurora and Elgin trains, if service had been resumed downtown.

    In this scenario, CA&E steel trains (the woods were not allowed) would have been routed through the Milwaukee-Dearborn subway, since the Interurban had lost its downtown terminal.

    The City of Chicago dedicated the new subway at the Washington station on February 24, 1951. Dignitaries included Mayor Martin H. Kennelly, Commissioner of the Department of Subways and Superhighways Virgil E. Gunlock, CTA Chairman Ralph Budd, Chief Engineer Dick Van Gorp, General Manager Walter J. McCarter, and Aldermen Joseph Rostenkowski, Clarence P. Wagner, and James F. Young. TV cowboy Monte Blue was also on hand.

    Mayor Kennelly (1887-1951) is not as well-known by any means as the man who replaced him, Richard J. Daley, but he did serve two terms from 1947-55 and thus bridged the Kelly-Nash and Daley eras. Conventional wisdom says he was a reformer who found that Chicago wasn’t ready for that much reform yet.

    Chicago Mayor Martin Kennelly is the first one off the train of new 6000-series "L"-subway cars.

    Chicago Mayor Martin Kennelly is the first one off the train of new 6000-series “L”-subway cars.

    Chicago Mayor Martin Kennelly is the first one off the train of new 6000-series "L"-subway cars.

    Chicago Mayor Martin Kennelly is the first one off the train of new 6000-series “L”-subway cars.

    Virgil Gunlock, then head of the City's Department of Subways and Superhighways, addresses the crowd. I'm not sure if this was before or after the cowboy.

    Virgil Gunlock, then head of the City’s Department of Subways and Superhighways, addresses the crowd. I’m not sure if this was before or after the cowboy.

    Virgil Gunlock also appears in our blog post The Great Subway Flood of 1957.

    Mayor Kennelly at the opening of the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway on February 24, 1951. Both subway tubes were dedicated during mayoral election campaigns.

    Mayor Kennelly at the opening of the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway on February 24, 1951. Both subway tubes were dedicated during mayoral election campaigns.

    By the time the Milwaukee-Dearborn subway was finally connected to the new Congress expressway median line in 1958 (which replaced the old Garfield Park “L”), Chicago had a different Mayor.

    A CTA test train of 6000s in the brand new Congress Expressway median line on June 18, 1958, a few days before regular service began.

    A CTA test train of 6000s in the brand new Congress Expressway median line on June 18, 1958, a few days before regular service began.

    In the June CERA program, we saw some of Bill Hoffman's movies, including the free rides given on a portion of the new CTA Congress rapid transit line on June 21, 1958, between Halsted and Cicero. Perhaps not coincidentally, this was the very same day that the last streetcar ran in Chicago.

    In the June CERA program, we saw some of Bill Hoffman’s movies, including the free rides given on a portion of the new CTA Congress rapid transit line on June 21, 1958, between Halsted and Cicero. Perhaps not coincidentally, this was the very same day that the last streetcar ran in Chicago.

    You’re invited…. to the dedication of the new West Side Subway in the Congress Expressway median strip with Mayor Richard J. Daley officiating, June 20…. to take a free train ride and inspect the new subway on June 21…. to use the fast, traffic-free regular service which goes into effect at 4:00 A.M., Sunday, June 22. V. E. Gunlock, chairman of the board, Chicago Transit Authority, and Miss Julia Riordan, a stenographer in CTA’s Public Information Department, inspect the posters at Keeler avenue staton announcing these events. Posters will be displayed at all rapid transit stations starting Monday, June 9. (1958)

    Within a few short years, however, not all the news was good:

    The Chicago Subway as it looked in 1965.

    The Chicago Subway as it looked in 1965.



    Empty Chicago Subway Station

    This subway station in downtown Chicago was practically deserted when this picture was taken at 9 p.m. last night. A recent outburst of subway beatings and robberies has alarmed Chicago’s commuters. The subway situation leaped into prominence Jan. 7 when a law school dean and state legislator was beaten and robbed by three toughs as 20 other passengers watched. (1965)

    But Chicago’s subways have rebounded from these low points and even survived the Great Chicago Flood in April 1992. Photographing subway trains is not the easiest thing to do, so we will leave you with a shot of a 6000s pair taken in April 1988.

    -David Sadowski

    A two-car train of 6000s in the State Street subway in April 1988. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    A two-car train of 6000s in the State Street subway in April 1988. (Photo by David Sadowski)


  • Sunday, July 07, 2013 1:43 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    The Illinois Railway Museum celebrated 60 years with 60 cars at today’s Trolley Pageant. IRM has, of course, way more than just 60 cars. The collection has grown more than tenfold since 43 cars were moved from North Chicago to Union in 1964.

    In the railfan community, it is easy to criticize, and IRM comes in for its share from time to time. But one thing today’s Trolley Pageant makes clear is that, in the big things, IRM has gotten it right. The breadth and scope of the collection is truly spectacular, and it continues to grow.

    P1000894What makes it even more special is that the fans built it from the ground up. And to see cars that had once been storage sheds or chicken coops be brought back to life, to run again, would warm any railfan’s heart. Chicago and West Towns 141 is only the latest of these success stories, and is now operational for the first time since 1948.

    Signs at Union proclaim it “America’s Premier Railway Museum,” and IRM’s claim to that title is as good as anyone’s. Who else could field:

    A five-car train of North Shore Line cars
    A three-car train of CA&E steels
    A four-car train of CA&E woods
    A seven car train of CTA 6000s
    A three-car train of CRT/CTA 4000s
    A three-car train of Illinois Terminal cars
    A two-car train of CRT wooden “L” cars

    All in running condition? Add to that the museum’s unique collection of Chicago streetcars, and you have something truly exceptional.

    They say a picture is worth 1000 words. In this tribute to IRM, we figure it would be better to keep the words to a minimum, and concentrate on the pictures. So, we give you 60 pictures from the 2013 Trolley Pageant to commemorate 60 years of the Illinois Railway Museum. All photos are by the author unless otherwise indicated. We hope that you will enjoy them.

    -David Sadowski

    PS- CERA is running a special trip out to the Illinois Railway Museum on September 21st, as part of our 75th Anniversary celebrations. Tickets are on sale now.

    Photo by Diana Koester

    Photo by Diana Koester

    Photo by Diana Koester

    Photo by Diana Koester

    Photo by Diana Koester

    Photo by Diana Koester

    Photo by Diana Koester

    Photo by Diana Koester

    Photo by Diana Koester

    Photo by Diana Koester

    Photo by Diana Koester

    Photo by Diana Koester

    Photo by Diana Koester

    Photo by Diana Koester

    Photo by Diana Koester

    Photo by Diana Koester

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    Brothers Dan and Chris Buck, who piloted the three-car train of CA&E steel cars at the IRM 2013 Trolley Pageant.

    Brothers Dan and Chris Buck, who piloted the three-car train of CA&E steel cars at the IRM 2013 Trolley Pageant.


  • Friday, July 05, 2013 1:45 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    It’s a curious thing to write in your high school yearbook, that you hope to “live long enough to ride the Chicago Subway.” Nowadays, a subway ride is pretty trivial, one of life’s commonplace occurrences if you work downtown and ride the CTA- something we all take for granted. But you have to consider the context. It was something my Dad said in 1942, when the US had just gotten into WWII and Chicago’s subways were still under construction.

    A Chicago family, all dressed up for their first subway ride, in October 1943.

    A Chicago family, all dressed up for their first subway ride, in October 1943.

    From the 1942 Steinmetz High School Yearbook.

    From the 1942 Steinmetz High School Yearbook.


    As things turned out, my Dad’s fears that he might not live long enough had some justification. He turned 18 in October 1942, soon after graduating from Steinmetz High School, on the city’s northwest side. He was then drafted and inducted into the Army Air Force in April 1943, and served in the Pacific as a radio operator before being honorably discharged in 1946. He did get to ride the subway, but it may have taken a while.

    Chicago’s first tunnel, the State Street tube, opened for revenue service on October 17, 1943, shortly after my father’s 19th birthday. His older brother Frank enlisted into the Army and became a Medic. He was killed in action on on April 19, 1945, during the battle of Okinawa. I don’t know if he ever did get to ride in the Chicago subway.

    Chicago’s “Initial System of Subways,” which broke ground in 1938, had been in the works for a long time. According to the June 3, 1909 issue of Engineering News:

    The idea of building subways for rapid transit purposes in the business district of Chicago is an old one, and has been embodied in a number of rapid transit schemes put forward by the municipality and outside interests during the past 20 years, or more.

    Thus, by the time construction began on an actual subway in Chicago, the topic had been discussed for 50 years, and had become something of a civic joke. Many people doubted it would ever be built.

    Yet even in 1908, barely a decade after the creation of the Union Loop connecting Chicago’s four rapid transit companies, the need for a subway was clear. The Loop “L” became congested right away, to the point where newspaper editorials called for action to be taken to alleviate even before constructing additional outlying lines.

    While the Loop “L” is still with us after more than 115 years, there were calls early on to get rid of it. Again, from the 1909 Engineering News article:

    In most (if not all) of these schemes the object has been to relieve traffic congestion in the streets by removing the street cars (or a large proportion of them) from the surface, and not to establish an underground railway independent of the surface facilities (as at New York). In the recent plans, this system is extended to include the trains of the elevated railways. It has been suggested that if all these trains can be accommodated in the subway, in addition to the surface cars, the unsightly and in many ways objectionable structure of the elevated terminal loop may be removed from the crowded streets of the business center. This, however, does not appear to be probable.

    By 1905, the city’s newspapers were looking to through-routing of the rapid transit lines as a way to relieve congestion on the Loop “L”. The rapid transit companies resisted. In time there would be some through-routing on the “L”, but a subway would naturally provide through-routing since it would connect two lines.

    In these early plans, we already see the idea present that the north-south subway would function as an “express,” with a limited number of stops, while the existing elevated would be a “local.” The State Street subway, as built, functions in just such a way.

    The 1909 Engineering News piece also notes:

    The subways now proposed (as described above) would constitute the beginning of a comprehensive system, to be developed as the growth of the city may require. The report states that these alone cannot be expected to provide adequate transportation for any considerable future period, and that their construction must be followed (at an early period) by subways taking advantage of other outlets from the business district.

    This notion also carried along into future plans. The 1938 subway plan approved by Harold Ickesand his Federal agency the PWA (Public Works Administration) was meant to be just the first phase of a much larger subway system, with lines radiating out to all parts of the city.

    By the 1920s, the city’s rapid transit subway plans had evolved to two north-south tubes running along State (always intended to be the first built) and either Clark or Dearborn. The State tube was always intended to connect back up with the North-South “L”, but what to connect Subway No. 2 up with was not as obvious. Sure, on the north end, it made a lot of sense to run northwest along Milwaukee Avenue to connect up with the Met “L”, but on the south end, things were not as certain.

    Plans called for a southwest subway line, but this remained an unrealized dream until the opening of the CTA Orange Line in 1993. So, what to connect Subway No. 2 to instead?

    An answer eventually developed along with plans for a west side super-highway. In 1937, Mayor Kelly proposed that the city build a number of west side elevated highways. Most of these would replace existing elevated rapid transit lines. In this plan, the Lake Street, Douglas Park, and Humboldt Park “L” branches were to be turned into elevated highways with express bus service. In actual practice, this would have been much like New York’s West Side Elevated Highway. The only west side line that would have remained was to be the Garfield Park “L”.

    Not everyone liked this plan, however. In particular, there were members of the Chicago City Council who did not like it. And Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes did not like it.

    The 1909 Burnham Plan of Chicago envisioned expanding Congress Street into a west-side boulevard. As there were few autos in 1909, this would not have been an expressway as we know it today. But the idea persisted, and land speculators had bought up property along the route in anticipation of quick profits that did not come.

    In the 1930s, the notion of a Congress Street Super-Highway took hold. But a primary obstacle to constructing it was the Garfield Park “L”, which already occupied part of its intended route. The idea of relocating the rapid transit line into the expressway median was a natural progression. (But not an original one- in 1940, part of a Pacific Electric interurban line was relocated into the median of the Hollywood Freeway through Cahuenga Pass. This service was abandoned in 1952.)

    The Congress rapid transit line opened in 1958, finally connecting to the Milwaukee-Dearborn subway twenty years after the latter began construction. The Milwaukee-Dearborn subway had opened in 1951, having been delayed for many years by WWII and a shortage of steel rapid transit cars to operate it. From 1951-58, service terminated at LaSalle and Congress.

    How to pay for the subways? For many years, the City of Chicago amassed a ‘transit fund’ in the millions from a portion of the proceeds of the Chicago Surface Lines streetcar system. Ground was almost broken on the State Street tube in 1931, but was derailed by lawsuits from landowners along its path, who objected to being taxed to help pay for it. Then, the Depression hit full force.

    The Cermak administration borrowed from the transit fund, replacing dollars with tax anticipation bonds of dubious value. This created a shortfall that made subway construction impossible, until the Federal government agreed to fund a portion of the cost as a back-to-work project. The PWA share essentially replaced the amount lost by the city’s borrowing.

    The Chicago subway, as built, was a classic example of “Art Moderne,” (also called Streamline Moderne) and was to some extent influenced in style by other contemporary subways such as theLondon Underground and the Moscow Subway. You can read a very interesting article about Art Moderne in the Chicago Subway here.

    For the City of Chicago, building the subways helped bring about the dream of transit unification between the surface and rapid transit systems. This was somewhat analogous to how building theIND Subway helped bring about transit unification in New York City.

    The difference is that New York not only built, but operated the IND in direct competition with the privately-owned BMT and IRT lines, eventually forcing them to sell out to municipal ownership. Until 1943, Chicago hoped to unify Chicago Surface Lines and Chicago Rapid Transit into a new private company, which probably would have been called the CTC (Chicago Transit Company).

    While technically both systems were bankrupt and under the control of the courts, in actual practice, the overall condition of the rapid transit lines, which accounted for less than 20% of all passenger traffic, was much worse than the surface system. This derailed every attempt at unification, since the high cost of modernizing the rapid transit system id not allow room for making a profit. Unification was only realized after the city gave up on the idea of a new private company in 1943 and embraced the idea of public ownership. The Chicago Transit Authority was created by an act of the State Legislature in 1945 and assumed control of CSL and CRT in 1947. It took another five years to add the Chicago Motor Coach Company to the fold.

    None of this had been resolved in 1938, when Ickes and the PWA approved the plan to build Chicago’s Initial System of Subways. PWA did not want to build the subways if there would be no operator to run them, and CRT was just barely able to collect enough revenue to pay for current operating expenses.

    As a safety measure, the City had decided that only steel cars would be allowed in the new subways, fearing that wood cars would increase the risks of fires and deadly accidents such as New York’s infamous Malbone Street Wreck. CRT had only 455 steel cars in its fleet (or 456, depending how you count them).

    It was estimated that 600 modern cars with quick acceleration would be needed to run the State Street tube to capacity. CRT had no resources to buy new cars, but could at least get service going in the north-south subway by using every available steel car it had. It was not optimum but it would have to do.

    The PWA pressed the City to make a commitment to achieving transit unification by 1942. At the same time, they made sure that the Chicago subways were engineered in such a way that they could have been operated using buses as a last resort.

    As things turned out, it was determined that operating the State Street Subway did not materially change CRT’s financial position. They experienced both increased costs and revenues as a result, and these tended to cancel each other out.

    Digging the tunnels downtown was akin to a complicated mining operation, and also undermined the old Chicago Tunnel Company system, which was already in a decline. The subway leveraged the earlier tunnel construction in two ways, expanding out from existing tunnels, and using the tunnel system to haul away the blue clay as it was excavated.

    Building the subway under the Chicago River was an even more daunting challenge, and required much ingenuity to solve.

    By 1941, even before Pearl Harbor, the United States was in the midst of a large-scale defense buildup. Materials needed for subway construction came under government control. By mid-1942 the two subway tunnels were 75-80% completed, but work was halted on the Dearborn-Milwaukee segment for the duration. After all, there was no chance to get the new rapid transit cars that were required to run it.

    The State Street tube was allowed to be completed and opened in 1943 as an aid to defense workers getting to and from their jobs helping the war effort. Wartime restrictions were lifted from the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway late in 1945, but service did not begin until 1951, as new 6000-series PCC “L”-subway cars were delivered to CTA.

    2013 marks the 70th anniversary of the opening of the State Street Subway. It is an important part of Chicago history, and one which all Chicagoans can be rightly proud of. The story of the Initial System of Subways is a fascinating one, which we will return to in future blog posts.

    -David Sadowski

    An early subway plan from 1909. The idea of an east-west subway for streetcars (and later, buses) persisted for another 50 years but was unrealized. Instead of a 4-track subway on Wabash, two tracks each were built on State and Dearborn.

    An early subway plan from 1909. The idea of an east-west subway for streetcars (and later, buses) persisted for another 50 years but was unrealized. Instead of a 4-track subway on Wabash, two tracks each were built on State and Dearborn.

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    A colorized version of the 1944 postcard photo above, but with a more modern rapid transit car in place of the 4000s. It looks much like the New York BMT’s “Bluebirds,” then the state-of-the-art. They were the first elevated-subway cars to use PCC technology, and helped inspire the four 5000-series articulated units CRT ordered after the war.

    A colorized version of the 1944 postcard photo above, but with a more modern rapid transit car in place of the 4000s. It looks much like the New York BMT’s “Bluebirds,” then the state-of-the-art. They were the first elevated-subway cars to use PCC technology, and helped inspire the four 5000-series articulated units CRT ordered after the war.

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    An aerial view (looking east) of the Garfield Park "L" and the future site of the Congress Super-Highway on September 2, 1950. If you look closely, you can see that some demolition has already taken place. The highway follows the path of the "L" in the foreground, heading straight through the middle of the old Main Post Office in the background.

    An aerial view (looking east) of the Garfield Park “L” and the future site of the Congress Super-Highway on September 2, 1950. If you look closely, you can see that some demolition has already taken place. The highway follows the path of the “L” in the foreground, heading straight through the middle of the old Main Post Office in the background.


  • Monday, July 01, 2013 1:56 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)
    One of the first CERA logos, circa 1942.

    One of the first CERA logos, circa 1942.

    The current CERA logo, designed by CERA member Thomas A. Carpenter, depicts the handle of an electric interurban multiple unit car controller.

    The current CERA logo, designed by CERA member Thomas A. Carpenter, depicts the handle of an electric interurban multiple unit car controller.

    Logo Contest

    CERA’s current logo has served us well since the late 1960s, but with this being our 75th anniversary year, the Directors have decided to hold a contest for a new one. We have some very talented, imaginative members, and are curious to see just what they might come up with.

    We can continue, of course, to use our current logo as much as we want, but as we look ahead to CERA’s next 75 years, a fresh look might be a good idea. If we find a new logo that we really like, we will unveil the winner at CERA’s 75th Anniversary Banquet and Program. Tickets are on salehere. (You can also buy tickets to our fantrips to visit the Kenosha streetcars, the Illinois Railway Museum, and Fox River Trolley Museum.)

    Submissions should reflect CERA’s mission to encourage the study of the history, equipment and operation of urban, suburban and mainline electric railways. There are two ways you can enter the contest. First, you can e-mail us a high-resolution image file to: cerablog1@gmail.com.

    Second, you can send your original artwork (no larger than 11×14″) to:

    CERA
    PO Box 503
    Chicago, IL
    60690-0503

    All submitted logos will become the property of Central Electric Railfans’ Association and may be used by the organization for promotional purposes. Contest submissions are non-returnable.

    Good luck, and may the best submission win!

    June Program Well Received

    Last Friday night’s CERA program, featuring digitized movies of Chicago’s rapid transit lines taken in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s by the late Bill Hoffman, was very well received. The films were very professionally transferred and put together by Jeff Wien and Bradley Criss, and were presented courtesy of the Wien-Criss Archive. A good crowd was on hand.

    There were a number of very rare shots, including films of the Garfield Park “L” temporary trackage on Van Buren, the Kenwood, Normal Park, and Stockyards branches, the Lake Street “L” running at ground level, and Evanston with overhead wire. North Shore Line trains popped up from time to time, including the Electroliners, and there were some very rare scenes of CA&E trains running on the Garfield Park “L”.

    We even got to see CA&E car 409 at the head of one train in Chicago. 60 years later, this car is still operable at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. I am sure car 409 will be in action this July 6th at IRM’s Trolley Pageant, where the museum will celebrate 60 years by running 60 cars.

    Since there are no plans at present to market these rare archival films to the public, the only way you can see such things is to attend one of our 10 annual programs. The organization traditionally takes off the months of July and August, so our next such program will be held on Friday, September 27th. The subject is to be announced. Admission is free for current CERA members and costs $5.00 for non-members.

    Chicago Surface Lines streetcar 3142 at the IRM Trolley Pageant in 2012. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Chicago Surface Lines streetcar 3142 at the IRM Trolley Pageant in 2012. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Trolley Sparks Special #1

    Trolley Sparks Cover

    We are just putting the finishing touches on our special 75th Anniversary commemorative publication, Trolley Sparks Special #1, which will be available starting this September 21st. Everyone who attends our 75th Anniversary Banquet and Program will receive a copy. Quantities are limited, and this special 80-page color book (which is not part of our regular membership entitlement) is sure to become a collector’s item.

    Even if you are unable to attend our banquet, you can still pre-order the book here.

    Our New Look

    Based on feedback from our members, we’ve given the CERA Members Blog an attractive new look. Some readers said they had difficulty reading white text on a black background. Now that we have nearly 50 posts under our belt, we also figured it was time to sort them out by categories for easier viewing. We also have a new, shorter URL: http://www.cerablog.com

    -David Sadowski


  • Thursday, June 27, 2013 1:58 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)
    Coming or going? We would like to think that trolleys are coming back into style, rather than going away. But where are the wires? Maybe this car is rolling downhill.

    Coming or going? We would like to think that trolleys are coming back into style, rather than going away. But where are the wires? Maybe this car is rolling downhill.

    Denver RTD LRV 275 on May 27, 2013 at Lincoln on the E line. New systems like this are coming on line all over the country. (Photo by Ray DeGroote)

    Denver RTD LRV 275 on May 27, 2013 at Lincoln on the E line. New systems like this are coming on line all over the country. (Photo by Ray DeGroote)

    News, mail, odds and ends from CERA. One reader writes:

    Would you consider showing past trips the CERA took. Some of my most fond memories with my Dad were on your sponsored trips. Example CSS&SB Railroad. Late 1950’s?

    Yes, we will post photos from CERA fantrips as we come across them. Here are several:

    Gary Railways 19 on the very first CERA fantrip (May 1, 1938). (Photo by Lamar M. Kelley)

    Gary Railways 19 on the very first CERA fantrip (May 1, 1938). (Photo by Lamar M. Kelley)

    Northern Indiana Railway 216 at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana on a CERA fantrip, circa 1940.

    Northern Indiana Railway 216 at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana on a CERA fantrip, circa 1940.

    "Modernized" CSS&SB 15 at Tremont, Indiana on September 20, 1942, on CERA inspection trip #41. (Photo by Malcom D. McCarter)

    “Modernized” CSS&SB 15 at Tremont, Indiana on September 20, 1942, on CERA inspection trip #41. (Photo by Malcom D. McCarter)

    CERA Bulletin 41, issued in 1942, covered the modernization of CSS&SB 15.

    CERA Bulletin 41, issued in 1942, covered the modernization of CSS&SB 15.

    CNS&M 744 on a CERA fantrip on June 17, 1962.

    CNS&M 744 on a CERA fantrip on June 17, 1962.

    North Shore Line freight loco 452, as it appeared on June 17, 1962, during a CERA fantrip.

    North Shore Line freight loco 452, as it appeared on June 17, 1962, during a CERA fantrip.

    June At CERA

    Our next program will be:

    Bill Hoffman’s Unedited Movies of the Chicago Rapid Transit Lines in the 1940s and 1950s
    Presented by Jeff Wien and the Wien-Criss Archive

    June’s membership meeting will consist of digitized 8mm films taken by the late Bill Hoffman during the 40s and 50s on the Chicago “L”. These films will be shown in an unedited format rather than as an organized program. The audience will be encouraged to participate in the program by calling out the locations as they appear on the screen. This will give the viewers a chance to participate in the program in a similar manner that has been developed on the CERA Members Blog. Come join us for what promises to be a fun evening.

    Friday, June 28, 2013
    1900 hrs / 7:00pm
    University Center
    525 S State St, Chicago, IL

    Admission is free.

    Since there are no plans at present to make them available for sale on video, chances are this will be your only oportunity to see these vintage films. In honor of Friday’s program, we herein offer some additional vintage views of Chicago transit in the 1940s and 50s, for your enjoyment:

    The "temporary" CTA terminal at the end of the Congress line in 1959. The platform at right is where CA&E cars would have transferred passengers to CTA, if the interurban could have resumed service after highway construction.

    The “temporary” CTA terminal at the end of the Congress line in 1959. The platform at right is where CA&E cars would have transferred passengers to CTA, if the interurban could have resumed service after highway construction.

    A Garfield Park "L" train of 'fishbellies' passes Union Station in August 1951.

    A Garfield Park “L” train of ‘fishbellies’ passes Union Station in August 1951.

    Downtown CTA rapid transit lines, as of 1948.

    Downtown CTA rapid transit lines, as of 1948.

    In the early 1950s, CTA postwar PCC 4400 lays over in an open storage yard behind 69th and Ashland carhouse, at the south end of the Western Avenue line.

    In the early 1950s, CTA postwar PCC 4400 lays over in an open storage yard behind 69th and Ashland carhouse, at the south end of the Western Avenue line.

    CTA (ex-CSL) Red Pullman streetcar 967 on Irving Park Road, September 1948.

    CTA (ex-CSL) Red Pullman streetcar 967 on Irving Park Road, September 1948.

    CTA (ex-CSL) 5434 (built by J. G. Brill 1907-08) on the Wallace-Racine line, which was bustituted in 1951. (Photo by Raymond J. Muller)

    CTA (ex-CSL) 5434 (built by J. G. Brill 1907-08) on the Wallace-Racine line, which was bustituted in 1951. (Photo by Raymond J. Muller)

    Our recent post “Bringing It All Back Home” stirred up a lot of discussion on some Yahoo Groups. Opinions were divided- some think the North Shore Line would not have been a suitable candidate to morph into high-speed rail, being, as one writer called it, the “slowest of the three rail lines between Chicago and Milwaukee.” Others agreed with my basic point that far too often, when it came to public transit in the 1950s and 60s, we threw out the baby with the bath water, and are now paying more to put back part of what we once had.

    Incredibly, one poster crowed about how much his North Shore Line stock increased in value, when the line was abandoned. You can check out some of these discussions on Yahoo Groups. In particular, look for CHICAGOTRANSIT, Chicagoland_Traction, and CNSMRR. In general, membership in these groups is required first if you intend to post messages.

    -David Sadowski

    The North Shore Line terminal in Milwaukee, as it was being demolished in 1964.

    The North Shore Line terminal in Milwaukee, as it was being demolished in 1964.

    An insurance company building is now on the site of the former North Shore Line terminal in Milwaukee. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    An insurance company building is now on the site of the former North Shore Line terminal in Milwaukee. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Buy tickets now for CERA’s 75th Anniversary Events this September 20, 21, and 22. Three special fantrips plus a banquet, program, and commemorative book.


  • Monday, June 24, 2013 1:59 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    If you’ve ever wondered what some of the first Chicago railfans were like, look no farther than the November 1938 issue of Surface Service magazine, “a monthly publication by and for Chicago Surface Lines employees.” A feature article describes what happened on the very first CSL railfan charter.

    1938, of course, was also the year that Central Electric Railfans’ Association was formed, and we expect that most, if not all, of the fans present were early members. As we celebrate our 75th anniversary this year, with a banquet, program, and three special fantrips that you can buy ticketsfor right now, it’s important to remember that we are “standing on the shoulders of giants.”

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    Surface Service called the fans “Peridromophilists,” among other things, and if you’ve wondered where that strange word came from, it was coined by William James Sidis (1898-1944), a one-time child prodigy who wrote a treatise on collecting streetcar transfers. You can read Notes on the Collection of Transfers here.

    Writing this book fueled the public notion that Sidis, as an adult, did not live up to the potential he showed as a youth, where he gained entrance to Harvard at age 11. But many of our best railfans, like Ray DeGroote, started out as transfer collectors.

    CERA did not sponsor this excursion, which was run by the Chicago Surface Lines, but gave full support to the venture and counted it as Fantrip No. 5 in our first Annual Report.

    We reproduce the entire 1938 article below for your enjoyment:

    Peridromophilists Cover System

    It’s All Right, Though, for They Are Just Enthusiastic Street Car Fans

    Peridromophilists- 69 of them- the most rabidly enthusiastic street car boosters there are- swarmed over the Chicago Surface Lines system October 23 when the first electric railfans’ trip on record opened the properties to the public view.

    And though that date is long past, the enthusiasm of the hobbyists is still in evidence as railfans request pictures of the trip, call for further information and plead for additional trips over the world’s largest street car system.

    Peridromophily, the more learned writers announce, is the science or art of collecting street car transfers. The less technical, however, do not hold for such narrow limits. Peridromophily covers a wider range, according to the Chicago students of the art. Not only are transfers important but the true student of Peridromophily must know much more about street car types, operating practices, schedules and above all he must have an extensive collection of street car pictures from all over the world.

    Street Car Enthusiasts

    That’s their story. Boiled down, it all means that the 69 peridromophilists who made the inaugural railfans’ trip over the Surface Lines system are enthusiastic in their preference for street cars. They are all interested in transportation, but they will expound the merits of electric railway transportation above all. And that’s why the Surface Lines was glad to throw open shops and car houses for them on a bleak, cold Sunday afternoon.

    A feature writer in the Chicago Daily News wrote a facetious prescription for “catching” a peridromophilist. “The simplest way to catch a peridromophilist,” said he, “is to bait your trap with a picture of No. 209 or maybe No. 9000. No. 209 happens to be the series number of the cable car trailer used by the surface lines of 1872 and No. 9000 the number of the trailer used on the Madison street line around 1921. You can use as bait any of several other numbers- such as 2852, 204, 4001, 7001- all of them representing street cars incorporating distinguishing features.”

    Facetious, he was, but there is more than a bit of truth in such a definition. The true railfan such as made up the group on October 23 knows as much or more about the different car types operated by the Surface Lines as do most of the employees. John J. Brown, for example, knows every detail of the cars which have operated in Chicago since the turn of the century. It was Brown who caught the motion picture magnates in an error when they used the wrong type horsecar for scenes in the picture “In Old Chicago.”

    Tucker in Charge

    Brown was one of the leaders in arranging the trip which was officially conducted over several Surface Lines routes in two Madison street streamliners by James Tucker of the Transportation Department- a peridromophilist in his own right.

    The trip was scheduled to start from the Kedzie depot at 12 o’clock noon. Office workers at that station were surprised to see 8 or 10 street car fans on hand an hour and a half early. By noon more than 50 boosters had paid 75 cents for the privilege of taking the trip.

    In the Kedzie yards the fans got the first taste of what was in store for them- and by the same token Surface Lines men found out just what enthusiasm would confront them through the afternoon. Spotted for photographers there were such cars as Cook County No. 1, described in the last issue of this magazine, work cars and No. 2858, a rebuilt funeral car.

    By 1 P. M. such a crowd was on hand that two Madison street cars were needed to comfortably seat the railfans. Then, with special emblems- “Electric Railfans’ Special”- on either side the trip started amid the cheers of the fans.

    The route, one requested by the fans, was south on Kedzie to 47th and east to Lake Park avenue. As the two shining streamliners went south on a clear track, Motormen John Naughton and Marvin J. Clement responded to the pleas of their passengers and turned on the power. By that time speed was an additional thrill but it was neither the first nor the last thrill through a long afternoon. At Lake Park and 55th there was a momentary interruption. Transportation Department officials had ordered that the special cars be given the right-of-way. The passengers of a regularly scheduled car were surprised indeed when they were sidetracked to allow the streamliners to go by.

    “That,” said William Hanson, a railfan, “was the greatest thrill I ever had riding a street car.”

    Down 47th street and over Lake Park there were few who failed to see the bright, clean streamliners traveling an unfamiliar path. Along every street and particularly at intersections all heads turned and all faces seemed to bear a quizzical “what’s up?” expression.

    Switched at 75th

    The cars were switched at 75th and then went south on Vincennes, where they were turned in on a 78th street track at the south end of the shops at this location. Photographer Chouinard had to yell his lustiest at that point to halt the headlong dash the fans made for the unusual type cars which had been spotted for them at that point. He managed to halt them just long enough for one group picture and then they scattered at such a rate that the fastest camera lens would have been needed to record their actions.

    Only a few minutes passed before the yards were a bedlam of sound. Street car gongs were sounded, mythical fares were recorded and the fans tested air pressure, light switches and almost every testable part of the cars lined up for their inspection.

    For the better part of the next hour camera shutters clicked merrily as the fans photographed their favorite models from every angle. It was then that Photographer Chouinard was able to snap the out-of-town fans who had come from such distant points as Kankakee, Illinois, South Bend and Elkhart, Indiana, St. Joseph, Michigan and other points. Some of the fans who traveled the greatest distances are shown on the back cover of this issue.

    Tour South Shops

    Then when all the fans had snapped numerous pictures- though hindered by lack of sun and the coldest weather of the season- the group was escorted through the
    South Shops by Superintendent C. D. Mack and several of his assistants. This, for the great majority, was the climax of a great day. Many of the most ardent fans were familiar with most of the rolling stock but few, if any, had ever been within the shop doors.

    Many of the shop’s most interesting machines were described by Mr. Mack and almost every statement drew further questions. Similarly, when the group moved into the paint shop some of the older model cars there invoked technical discussions as to the merit of this model or that. In the long run, however, everybody was satisfied and the group boarded the cars for the run back to Kedzie depot.

    The railfans- or peridromophilists if you will- had the time of their lives and they may have a warm spot for the Surface Lines in their hearts following their excursion over the system. Their letters proved it!

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    CSL 1110 as it looked on October 23, 1938. (Photo by Lamar M. Kelley)

    CSL 1110 as it looked on October 23, 1938. (Photo by Lamar M. Kelley)

    CSL Pre-PCC 7001, shown as it entered service in 1934, was one of the cars inspected by the railfans. Sometimes, it's funny how some cars got saved and others did not. The empty shell of 4001 was saved because it was thought the windows were at the right height to make a good hot dog stand. Meanwhile, this car, although complete except for the seats, was not saved. The windows were too high to make a good hot dog stand.

    CSL Pre-PCC 7001, shown as it entered service in 1934, was one of the cars inspected by the railfans. Sometimes, it’s funny how some cars got saved and others did not. The empty shell of 4001 was saved because it was thought the windows were at the right height to make a good hot dog stand. Meanwhile, this car, although complete except for the seats, was not saved. The windows were too high to make a good hot dog stand.

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    MEET YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER!

    Here’s Miniature ‘Photo’ of the Man Who Makes the Best

    The railfan photographs which decorate the front and back cover of this magazine were taken on a cold and murky day when the absence of light reminded A. R. Chouinard of the early days when it wasn’t uncommon to have to expose plates from five minutes to a half-hour. That’s another way of saying that Fred- few know him as Alfred R.- knows his business from the ground up.

    Fred came to the Surface Lines in 1927 and his work is primarily concerned with photographing accident cases. It is his sideline work that makes him a most valuable addition to the Surface Service Magazine staff. He is the man who is always on the job for bus openings, baseball games and other employee activities and his skilled camera hands have returned many notable pictures to the magazine editors. He is, in many ways, an unsung mainstay of the magazine, for without his pictures it would be very dull indeed.

    Mrs. Disney’s boy, Walter, out there in Hollywood, has affection and regard fro Fred, too. Disney first learned the art of photographing from Fred back in the days when animated films were used for advertising and filled in motion picture programs while the operator changed the reels between shows.

    We’re particularly proud of Chouinard’s picture which accompanies this sketch. He didn’t know it was taken and it will be a surprise to him. It’s very typical- there’s Fred atop a tower wagon with his ever-present stub of a cigar and his trusty camera ready for action.

    Many of Chouinard’s pictures have received high praise at various photographic exhibits, but the pictures which decorate his office are the pictures of the men with whom he works. That is another slant on the kind of a friend Fred Chouinard is.

    Editor’s Note- CSL photographer Alfred R. Chouinard was born in 1879 and died in 1967. The body shell of CSL experimental pre-PCC streetcar 4001 is at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. So is Chicago cable car trailer 209. According to cable car historian Joe Thompson, this is a “1934 replica with some original parts.”

    -David Sadowski


  • Sunday, June 23, 2013 2:04 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)
    C&WT 138 heading eastbound, crossing the Illinois Central tracks on 26th near Harlem on the La Grange line on April 11, 1948. Built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924, this car was scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Charles Able)

    C&WT 138 heading eastbound, crossing the Illinois Central tracks on 26th near Harlem on the La Grange line on April 11, 1948. Built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924, this car was scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Charles Able)

    Newly restored Chicago and West Towns Railways car 141 will run in the Illinois Railway Museum‘s Trolley Pageant on July 6, to help celebrate IRM’s 60th anniversary. This is the culmination of a long road back for this car. After the C&WT replaced streetcars with buses in 1948, the body of 141 was sold as a shed. This lone survivor of the West Towns system was purchased by the Electric Railway Historical Society in 1958. When the ERHS collection was dispersed in 1973, it went to IRM and it took 40 years to complete restoration.

    img190The Chicago and West Towns Railway was the subject of CERA B-138, written by James J. Buckley and edited by Richard W. Aaron.

    Eight miles west of Chicago’s Loop is a cluster of 17 long-established communities that were served by a street railway and bus system whose roots can be traced back to the late 19th century. The Chicago & West Towns Railways operated five major streetcar lines that provided convenient and inexpensive transportation to the residents of communities of Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park, Maywood, Cicero, Berwyn, Brookfield, and LaGrange.

    The West Towns’ blue and white streetcars provided area residents with transportation to school, work and shopping. The cars were also kept busy transporting visitors to major west suburban attractions such as Brookfield Zoo, forest preserves picnic groves, Hawthorne and Sportsman’s Park racetracks, and Hines Memorial Hospital. Whether it was carrying residents from their homes in Oak Park or Forest Park to their jobs at American Can in Maywood or the giant Western Electric Company factory in Cicero, or taking Chicago families on a weekend outing to the zoo, the Chicago & West Towns Railway served as the “family car” in the era before auto ownership and traffic congestion became the norm. 250 pages and 311 photos

    To purchase a copy, click here.

    To pay tribute to the resurrection of car 141, here are several unseen or rarely seen West Towns streetcar photos. Most were taken by the late transit activist Norman Rolfe. Decades ago, he traveled the country taking trolley photos, and he spent June 9, 1947 out on the West Towns. We can see that he rode the Cermak line out to Harlem and then walked around the Suburban car barn, taking pictures of everything that was there. Chances are he made connections at Cermak and Kenton with a Chicago Surface Lines red streetcar.

    The Chicago and West Towns bus service continues today via the West Division of Pace.

    -David Sadowski

    C&WT 139 in February 1938, when it was painted orange. Built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924 and scrapped in 1948, this car was part of the same series as 141, recently restored at the Illinois Railway Museum. Note the coupler. (Photo by Gordon Lloyd)

    C&WT 139 in February 1938, when it was painted orange. Built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924 and scrapped in 1948, this car was part of the same series as 141, recently restored at the Illinois Railway Museum. Note the coupler. (Photo by Gordon Lloyd)

    C&WT 130 in Maywood in 1945. Built by McGuire-Cummings in 1914, this car was scrapped in 1948. Bill Shapotkin writes, "Presume the photo of car #130 (turning the corner) is at Madison/19th (car is turning from W/B Madison into N/B 19th Ave)?"

    C&WT 130 in Maywood in 1945. Built by McGuire-Cummings in 1914, this car was scrapped in 1948. Bill Shapotkin writes, “Presume the photo of car #130 (turning the corner) is at Madison/19th (car is turning from W/B Madison into N/B 19th Ave)?”

    C&WT 128 at 17th in Maywood in 1945. Built by McGuire-Cummings in 1914, this car was scrapped in 1948. Bill Shapotkin writes, "Presume the photo of car #128 (at 17th Ave in Maywood) is at Lake/17th? Which direction is the car heading? Whose bus is that at the left?"

    C&WT 128 at 17th in Maywood in 1945. Built by McGuire-Cummings in 1914, this car was scrapped in 1948. Bill Shapotkin writes, “Presume the photo of car #128 (at 17th Ave in Maywood) is at Lake/17th? Which direction is the car heading? Whose bus is that at the left?”

    Single truck sweeper 6 was built by McGuire in 1897. #9 was built in 1928 by Cummings Car & Coach, and was sold to the Sand Springs Railway in 1948 and renumbered A-11. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    Single truck sweeper 6 was built by McGuire in 1897. #9 was built in 1928 by Cummings Car & Coach, and was sold to the Sand Springs Railway in 1948 and renumbered A-11. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    Line car 15 was built by Pullman in 1897. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    Line car 15 was built by Pullman in 1897. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    Line car 15 was built by Pullman in 1897. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    Line car 15 was built by Pullman in 1897. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    Edward Halstead writes, "Here's a photo of my 1/4" scale model of CWT 15. The crooked front pole is included."

    Edward Halstead writes, “Here’s a photo of my 1/4″ scale model of CWT 15. The crooked front pole is included.”

    C&WT 100 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917 and scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 100 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1917 and scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 104 was a McGuire-Cummings product, dating to 1917, and was scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 104 was a McGuire-Cummings product, dating to 1917, and was scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 124 was built in 1914 by McGuire-Cummings, and was scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 124 was built in 1914 by McGuire-Cummings, and was scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    The motorman changes ends on C&WT 128 at Cermak and Kenton, preparing for the return trip west. Passengers heading east would take a Chicago Surface Lines streetcar from this point. Car 128 was built in 1914 by McGuire-Cummings and was scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    The motorman changes ends on C&WT 128 at Cermak and Kenton, preparing for the return trip west. Passengers heading east would take a Chicago Surface Lines streetcar from this point. Car 128 was built in 1914 by McGuire-Cummings and was scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT single-truck sweeper 7 was built by Taunton in 1900 as Suburban RR 7. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT single-truck sweeper 7 was built by Taunton in 1900 as Suburban RR 7. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT single-truck sweeper 5 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1913 as County Traction 5. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT single-truck sweeper 5 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1913 as County Traction 5. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT single-truck sweeper 6 was built by McGuire in 1897 as Suburban RR 6. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT single-truck sweeper 6 was built by McGuire in 1897 as Suburban RR 6. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT single-truck sweeper 5 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1913 and was originally County Traction 5. #7 was built by Taunton in 1900 for Suburban RR. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT single-truck sweeper 5 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1913 and was originally County Traction 5. #7 was built by Taunton in 1900 for Suburban RR. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT flat car behind the Suburban car barn. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT flat car behind the Suburban car barn. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 158 was built by Cummings Car & Coach in 1927 and scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 158 was built by Cummings Car & Coach in 1927 and scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 164, built by Cummings Car & Coach in 1927, was scrapped in 1947. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 164, built by Cummings Car & Coach in 1927, was scrapped in 1947. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 165, built by Cummings Car & Coach in 1927, was scrapped in 1947. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 165, built by Cummings Car & Coach in 1927, was scrapped in 1947. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    Scrapped trucks in the yard behind the Suburban car barn at Harlem and Cermak. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    Scrapped trucks in the yard behind the Suburban car barn at Harlem and Cermak. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 152, ready to head west from Cermak and Kenton. This car was built by Cummings Car & Coach in 1927 and scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 152, ready to head west from Cermak and Kenton. This car was built by Cummings Car & Coach in 1927 and scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 144 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924 and scrapped in 1947. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 144 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924 and scrapped in 1947. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 140, a sister car to 141, was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924 and scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 140, a sister car to 141, was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924 and scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 139, a sister car to 141, was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924 and scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 139, a sister car to 141, was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924 and scrapped in 1948. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 135 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1919 and was scrapped in 1947. The photographer wasn't sure whether this workman had spoiled his shot, so he took another one after this. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 135 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1919 and was scrapped in 1947. The photographer wasn’t sure whether this workman had spoiled his shot, so he took another one after this. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 135 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1919 and was scrapped in 1947. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    C&WT 135 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1919 and was scrapped in 1947. (Photo by Norman Rolfe)

    CTA 1772 on Cermak at Karlov on November 15, 1950. Five blocks west of here, red streetcars would change passengers with the Chicago and West Towns, at the border between Chicago and Cicero.

    CTA 1772 on Cermak at Karlov on November 15, 1950. Five blocks west of here, red streetcars would change passengers with the Chicago and West Towns, at the border between Chicago and Cicero.

    C&WT line car 15 in a photograph by Lamar M. Kelley, an early CERA member who died in 1947. This picture may date to the late 1930s.

    C&WT line car 15 in a photograph by Lamar M. Kelley, an early CERA member who died in 1947. This picture may date to the late 1930s.

    C&WT in an undated photo, most likely taken at the Harlem & Cermak car barn. (Photographer unknown)

    C&WT in an undated photo, most likely taken at the Harlem & Cermak car barn. (Photographer unknown)

    April 6, 1948 - "It's a new era- Streetcars are gone from the bumpy Berwyn-LaGrange line and a ribbon is cut at Lombard av. and Cermak rd., to mark the opening of bus service. Henry J. Sandusky, mayor of Cicero and William J. Kriz, mayor of Berwyn, snip the tape as officials of Brookfield, LaGrange and Riverside look on." (Unknown photographer)

    April 6, 1948 – “It’s a new era- Streetcars are gone from the bumpy Berwyn-LaGrange line and a ribbon is cut at Lombard av. and Cermak rd., to mark the opening of bus service. Henry J. Sandusky, mayor of Cicero and William J. Kriz, mayor of Berwyn, snip the tape as officials of Brookfield, LaGrange and Riverside look on.” (Unknown photographer)


  • Tuesday, June 18, 2013 2:06 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    In the 1940s, 50s, 60s, and even 70s, city after city across America abandoned streetcars and interurbans. For the faithful “juice fan,” as they were sometimes called, it must have seemed like an endless litany of gloom and doom.

    A CNS&M Electroliner in a Kodachrome "superslide" taken on May 26, 1959. (In this case, the photographer used size 828 roll film for an image slightly larger than 35mm.) Such streamlined cars once provided hi-speed rail service between Chicago and Milwaukee that would cost billions to replace today.

    A CNS&M Electroliner in a Kodachrome “superslide” taken on May 26, 1959. (In this case, the photographer used size 828 roll film for an image slightly larger than 35mm.) Such streamlined cars once provided hi-speed rail service between Chicago and Milwaukee that would cost billions to replace today.


    As George W. Hilton and John F. Due wrote in their classic 1960 book The Electric Interurban Railways In America (page 4):

    The building of the interurbans, which must be looked upon from the vantage point of history as unfortunate, occurred because the electric streetcar was developed to a high degree of technological perfection a little more than a decade before the automobile.

    That was certainly the dominant view in 1960, very nearly the end of what the late author William D. Middleton called “The Interurban Era,” in his classic 1961 book of the same name. At the time, it seemed as though both streetcars and interurbans were just a passing phase that (literally) helped pave the way for a world of asphalt and rubber tires.

    When Hilton and Due revised their book in 1964, it seemed as though you could put a bookend on the entire interurban era. There was little to report, other than how both Pacific Electric and the North Shore Line had recently abandoned, leaving the South Shore Line as practically the nation’s last remaining interurban line. Even the Red Arrow lines were reported as planning to substitute buses for all routes other than Norristown by the end of the 1960s- and, in fact, the Ardmore line did so at the end of 1966. Fortunately, the Media and Sharon Hill lines are still run by trolleys, and it is hard to imagine them being replaced by buses now.

    Streetcars and interurbans were history; they represented the past, one before autos and highways dominated. To many, even building the nation’s extensive interurban network was a mistake; simply a “series of unfortunate events,” leading to financial ruin and eventual abandonment.

    Things seemed to have reached a nadir around the early 1970s, as abandonments continued among the handful of remaining systems, and the last American PCC streetcars were already more than 20 years old. Even when Boston and San Francisco made a joint order for modern LRVs from Boeing-Vertol, things seemingly did not get much better. There were so many design and quality control issues that it did not seem possible to build a successful American streetcar in 1975, even though thousands of PCCs were built between 1936 and 1952.

    However, all that changed with the opening of the San Diego Trolley in 1981. Suddenly, the trolley was “cool” again, in the new guise of “light rail.” Over time, cities across America started building them, occasionally in the same rights-of-way that had previously been used by streetcars and interurbans. I am glad that Spencer Crump, who predicted that the PE’s “Red Cars” would someday return to LA, lived long enough to actually see it happen, despite all the naysayers. It seemed improbable when he predicted it, but he was proven right in the end.

    It would have been better (and cheaper) to keep the best parts of the electric railway network we once had, rather than rebuild parts of it from scratch. As late as 1963, we had high-speed intercity rail running between Chicago and Milwaukee. It was called the North Shore Line. It would cost untold billions to put it back as high-speed rail. Meanwhile, the Japanese were inspired by CNS&M’s Electroliners to create their own Bullet cars. Whereas we were once the leader in intercity rail, we must now play catch-up to Europe and other parts of the world.

    Even the word “streetcar” is coming back into vogue, as witnessed by this article in Mass Transit magazine, “Not Your Grandfather’s Streetcar.” And what is today’s “high speed intercity rail” but an updated version of yesterday’s interurban? So, in these matters, we try to take a more balanced view today. We need streetcars and interurbans, by whatever name you call them, every bit as much as we need automobiles and highways.

    What’s even more gratifying is how, in a few cases at least, cars that originally ran in a city have actually returned to run again in the same place they started. For example, Aurora, Elgin & Fox River car 304, a lightweight interurban car built by St. Louis Car Co. in 1923, returned to the Fox River Trolley Museum in 2009, and now runs on the last remnant of AE&FR trackage. How it got back after last having run there in 1935 is an interesting and convoluted story.

    As Don’s Rail Photos notes, car “304 was built by St Louis Car in 1924. #1306. In 1936 it was sold CI/SHRT (Cleveland Interurban RR became Shaker Heights Rapid Transit in 1944) as 304 and in 1954 it was sold to CP&SW as 304. It was sold to Fox River Trolley Museum in 2009.” We have pictures showing car 304 and its sister car 303 (now at the Northern Ohio Railway Museum) in Cleveland and at “Trolleyville USA,” aka the Columbia Park and Southwestern. (The latter was a trolley museum run by Gerald E. Brookins and his family for about 50 years, and although derided by some for having inauthentic paint schemes on cars, was instrumental in preserving a large number of rail cars that otherwise would have been scrapped.)

    We expect to ride AE&FR car 304 on Sunday, September 22, 2013, on a CERA fantrip that will be part of our 75th anniversary celebrations. We hope that you will join us.

    AE&FR car 304, now returned to Fox River, shown here circa 1950 in Cleveland Rapid service.

    AE&FR car 304, now returned to Fox River, shown here circa 1950 in Cleveland Rapid service.

    AE&FR car 303, sister to 304, at the Columbia Park and South Western (aka "Trolleyville USA") in November 1963, in this photograph by R. S. Short.

    AE&FR car 303, sister to 304, at the Columbia Park and South Western (aka “Trolleyville USA”) in November 1963, in this photograph by R. S. Short.

    Fort Collins (CO) Birney car 21 is another example. The Ft. Collins system, last in the nation to run Birneys, was abandoned in 1951. But there were plans to bring them back, at least in limited form, by the late 1970s. The Fort Collins Municipal Railway Society brought car 21 back to Colorado and it has been running in its old stomping grounds since 1984. A second original Birney is now undergoing restoration so it too can be put back into service.

    Ft. Collins Municipal Railway Birney car 21, as it looked on April 27, 1986, in this photograph by Ed Fulcomer.

    Ft. Collins Municipal Railway Birney car 21, as it looked on April 27, 1986, in this photograph by Ed Fulcomer.

    A similar success story is in the making with at least one Dallas double-end PCC car. Again, fromDon’s Rail Photos:

    612 was built by Pullman-Standard in 1945, #W6699. It was sold as MTA 3334 in 1959 and sold to Trolleyville in 1991. It was transferred as Lake Shore Electric Ry in 2006. It was sold to McKinney Avenue Transit Authority and stored at Illinois Railway Museum in 2010.

    There are many fine photos showing this car, or its sister cars, in both Dallas and Boston. Once 612 is restored, we hope it will once again ride the rails of Dallas streets, back where it belongs.

    Dallas Railway and Terminal Co. car 616, sister car to 612, in Dallas Texas in July 1946.

    Dallas Railway and Terminal Co. car 616, sister car to 612, in Dallas Texas in July 1946.

    Ex-Dallas double-end PCC car 612 was renumbered as 3334 in Boston, and is shown there at left. This car may be restored to run again in Dallas.

    Ex-Dallas double-end PCC car 612 was renumbered as 3334 in Boston, and is shown there at left. This car may be restored to run again in Dallas.

    Finally, Nine El Paso pre-war PCC cars, currently languishing in the desert, may someday be restored to run in that city. The El Paso streetcar system was abandoned in 1974, representing in some respects the low point for streetcars in the US prior to their revival. Yes, my friends, streetcars are definitely making a comeback, and they may soon be coming to a street near you. What goes around sometimes comes around.

    -David Sadowski

    El Paso City Lines pre-war PCC 1515 in June 1971. It's possible this same car may be restored and once again run on the streets of El Paso.

    El Paso City Lines pre-war PCC 1515 in June 1971. It’s possible this same car may be restored and once again run on the streets of El Paso.


  • Thursday, June 13, 2013 2:08 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    Although CERA was not able to squeeze a trip to the East Troy Electric Railroad into our busy schedule of 75th Anniversary events, we naturally support their efforts in keeping this very historic line running. The six miles of electric track between East Troy and Mukwonago is the last remaining vestige of an extensive interurban system in the southeast part of Wisconsin.

    What is an “interurban?” We will write more about that in future posts, but at its heart, it means a railway, generally electric, running between cities in the early part of the 20th century, before autos and highways predominated. The interurban era in Wisconsin came to a close in 1963, when the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee ceased operating. But the trackage between East Troy and Mukwonago has been in more or less continuous use from 1907 to today- a remarkable history, but one not without a few bumps in the road, both literal and figurative.

    Chicago Rapid Transit cars 4453 and 4420, built in the early 1920s, with replica open car from 1975, at the East Troy depot. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Chicago Rapid Transit cars 4453 and 4420, built in the early 1920s, with replica open car from 1975, at the East Troy depot. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    When passenger service to Milwaukee ended in 1939, the city of East Troy bought the six miles of line to Mukwonago, in order to keep trolley freight operations going serving local industry. In 1970, the Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society, Inc. (TWERHS) moved its operations to East Troy with the intention of running a railway museum there. The East Troy Trolley Museum operated from 1972 to 1984, when East Troy cancelled their contract. The group had experienced some infighting, and East Troy questioned their ability in continuing to operate the museum, which was then still sharing the tracks with freight operations.

    Over time, the TWERHS historical collection was removed from East Troy, and much of it eventually sold to the Illinois Railway Museum and the Fox River Trolley Museum. However, TWERHS still exists and continues with other activities.

    A new group, the East Troy Electric Railroad, was formed, in part with some members from the old group, and has continued trolley museum operations since 1985. You can read the entire history of the line here. Over time, East Troy sold the railroad to the museum. Freight operations were dieselized in 1970 and ended some years ago.

    The museum’s collection includes a number of different passenger and work cars. Two former Chicago “L” 4000-series “L” cars provide much of the service, along with some Chicago, South Shore and South Bend interurbans of similar 1920s vintage. A Sheboygan interurban car from 1908, which had served as a family summer cottage for 50 years, was finally restored to former glory in 2005 and is a particular standout of the collection.

    You can also read more about the history of the East Troy collection here, although this page on Don’s Rail Photos is still under construction.

    Double-ended cars work best on the line, which does not have turning loops at the ends. Two single-ended PCC cars that had been acquired by the East Troy group were sold to Kenosha in 2011, where we are likely to ride at least one of them on our September CERA fantrip there.

    Unlike many museum operations whose tracks end in the middle of nowhere, the trolley takes you to the Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago, where you can buy pies, cheese, deli meats, sandwiches, or drink a cup of coffee while waiting for the return trip to East Troy. The railroad also operates a schedule of dinner trains during the summer.

    Having lasted more than a century, we hope the line between East Troy and Mukwonago will continue into the next one. If it is to do so, however, it will need both your help and continued support. Several pieces of equipment, including CNS&M car 761, are currently inoperable and in need of extensive restoration. And there are, as I mentioned, a lot of bumps in the roadbed, which could probably use rebuilding. I understand the overhead wire is original to the line and that too could use some replacement.

    The railroad has a wonderful depot and gift shop in the original substation, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. I hope you will agree with me that a trip to East Troy is always a good thing. The museum has some enthusiastic young volunteers who seem ready to carry the torch and ensure that the East Troy Electric Railroad has a bright future.

    -David Sadowski

    This historical marker was erected in East Troy in 1973. The six-mile line is no longer used for freight. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    This historical marker was erected in East Troy in 1973. The six-mile line is no longer used for freight. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    The East Troy Electric Railroad depot and substation in East Troy is on the National Register of Historic Places. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    The East Troy Electric Railroad depot and substation in East Troy is on the National Register of Historic Places. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Ticket booth at the East Troy depot. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Ticket booth at the East Troy depot. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    The cab of CRT/CTA car 4420, with a "coffee grinder" controller of the same type as the one shown in the CERA logo. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    The cab of CRT/CTA car 4420, with a “coffee grinder” controller of the same type as the one shown in the CERA logo. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    View of the single track line looking east from East Troy. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    View of the single track line looking east from East Troy. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    4453 at the Mukwonago depot. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    4453 at the Mukwonago depot. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    The Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    The Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Mentoring a new motorman. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Mentoring a new motorman. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Interior of CRT/CTA rapid transit car 4453. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Interior of CRT/CTA rapid transit car 4453. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    There is some additional trackage beyond the Mukwonago depot that is not used in regular service. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    There is some additional trackage beyond the Mukwonago depot that is not used in regular service. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    The passing siding in the middle of the line between East Troy and Mukwonago. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    The passing siding in the middle of the line between East Troy and Mukwonago. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Sheboygan Light Power & Railway wooden interurban car 28 was built in 1908 and ran until 1938, when it was sold to a private family for use as a summer cottage. It remained this way for the next 50 years. Restoration began in 1998 and was completed in 2005. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Sheboygan Light Power & Railway wooden interurban car 28 was built in 1908 and ran until 1938, when it was sold to a private family for use as a summer cottage. It remained this way for the next 50 years. Restoration began in 1998 and was completed in 2005. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Like the 4000s, the Sheboygan car was built by the Cincinnati Car Co. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Like the 4000s, the Sheboygan car was built by the Cincinnati Car Co. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Interior of restored Sheboygan car 26. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Interior of restored Sheboygan car 26. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Interior of restored Sheboygan car 26. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Interior of restored Sheboygan car 26. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Interior of restored Sheboygan car 26. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Interior of restored Sheboygan car 26. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Interior of restored Sheboygan car 26. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Interior of restored Sheboygan car 26. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Interior of restored Sheboygan car 26. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Interior of restored Sheboygan car 26. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Wisconsin trolleys have long been a favorite subject of CERA books, many of which are now collector's items. Badger Traction (B-111), published in 1969, is one such book.

    Wisconsin trolleys have long been a favorite subject of CERA books, many of which are now collector’s items. Badger Traction (B-111), published in 1969, is one such book.

    The massive TM book, CERA B-112, was published in 1972 and is another such collector's item focusing on Wisconsin's long traction history.

    The massive TM book, CERA B-112, was published in 1972 and is another such collector’s item focusing on Wisconsin’s long traction history.

    CNS&M 411 at the East Troy Trolley Museum in November 1976. It was built by Cincinnati Car Co. in 1924 as an observation trailer car, later converted to coach. From 1964-74 it was owned by the Trolley Museum of NY. In 1974 it was sold to the The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society, and then in turn to the Escanaba & Lake Superior RR in Wells, MI in 1984, where it remains today. (Photographer unknown)

    CNS&M 411 at the East Troy Trolley Museum in November 1976. It was built by Cincinnati Car Co. in 1924 as an observation trailer car, later converted to coach. From 1964-74 it was owned by the Trolley Museum of NY. In 1974 it was sold to the The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society, and then in turn to the Escanaba & Lake Superior RR in Wells, MI in 1984, where it remains today. (Photographer unknown)

    CNS&M 763 in Mukwonago, Wisconsin on October 1, 1983. This car was sold to the Illinois Railway Museum in 1988. (Photo by Mike Sosalla)

    CNS&M 763 in Mukwonago, Wisconsin on October 1, 1983. This car was sold to the Illinois Railway Museum in 1988. (Photo by Mike Sosalla)

    A discarded sign from the original East Troy museum group, as it appeared in August 1987. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    A discarded sign from the original East Troy museum group, as it appeared in August 1987. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    A North Shore Line car at East Troy, as it appeared in August, 1987. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    A North Shore Line car at East Troy, as it appeared in August, 1987. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    One of East Troy's 4000s in "traction orange," as it looked in August, 1987. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    One of East Troy’s 4000s in “traction orange,” as it looked in August, 1987. (Photo by David Sadowski)


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