Central Electric 
Railfans' Association

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  • Thursday, February 26, 2015 3:20 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    Our Next Program:

    Pittsburgh Area Traction

    Annual Meeting

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    1900 hrs / 7:00pm
    University Center
    525 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605

    We will visit and view traction operations in the Pittsburgh area.  Electric traction in Pennsylvania proved to be an enduring institution, with many lines surviving into the 1950s.  Even today, we can still ride electric cars in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas.

    Pittsburgh Railways PCC 1467, built in 1941 by St. Louis Car Company, is preserved at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, PA.

    Pittsburgh Railways PCC 1467, built in 1941 by St. Louis Car Company, is preserved at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, PA.

    Two DVDs will be shows, with footage transferred from movies.Pittsburgh Railways 16 mm color footage from 1951 to 1963, features interurbans, suburban, and city lines back in a time when it seemed that streetcars could be found everywhere in Pittsburgh.  A combination of PCC cars and older equipment will make this trip back into the past an enjoyable experience.

    West Penn Railways features Greensburg to Uniontown main line and the branch to Latrobe.  Tight curves, spectacular bridges, and steep grades were all part of the West Penn experience that made is so memorable.

    Our Annual Meeting will take place between showing of the two DVDs.  Three candidates will be elected to the CERA Board of Directors, and administrative reports will be presented.

    PS- CERA Bulletin 145, published in 2012, covers the Pittsburgh Railways story in great detail:

    Transit in the Triangle Volume 1
    A Century Look at Pittsburgh Public Transit
    by Blaine S. Hays and James A. Toman

    You can purchase a copy here.

    Pittsburgh Railways had a very attractive logo, as seen on PCC 1711 at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.

    Pittsburgh Railways had a very attractive logo, as seen on PCC 1711 at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.

    West Penn Railways car 739, now preserved at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.

    West Penn Railways car 739, now preserved at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.


  • Friday, January 23, 2015 3:28 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    The Lake Room, University Center 

    525 S. State St, Chicago, IL

    July 25, 2015, marks the 60th anniversary of the North Shore Line’s “Shore Line Route” abandonment. January 21, 2015 marks the 52nd anniversary of the total abandonment of the railroad.

    Tonight we will view various aspects of the beloved North Shore Line through an encore presentation of the 50th Anniversary North Shore Line Program which was originally presented at CERA on January 25, 2013. North Shore enthusiasts never tire of seeing visual representations of their beloved interurban when all was still operational and every day was “business as usual” even in the shadow of protracted abandonment proceedings. If you missed this program the first time around, here is your chance to see this famous and colorful interurban brought back to life in an engrossing collection of digitized and restored black-and-white and color film.

    Join us for an evening on the North Shore Line. Crying towels are in limited supply and available upon request.

    The Annual Membership Meeting has been postponed until February. The Audit Committee requires additional time to complete its review of CERA’s finances and issue an up-to-date report on the organization’s financial state to its members.

    Also, there are three Board of Directors positions up for election, but to date we only have the names of two candidates to place on the ballot. If you would like to give of your time to CERA and are interested in serving on the Board, please contact Nominations Committee Chairman Raymond DeGroote by email at rdg6018ray@yahoo.com.

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    Note: Current estimates are that B-146 will be released sometime in February 2015—a very welcome event to bring in the New Year


  • Friday, December 26, 2014 3:31 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)
    Myles’ burial took place on Friday in St. Paul, Minnesota.  The memorial service will be held on Tuesday, December 30, at 11:30 AM at North Shore Congregation Israel, 1185 Sheridan Road, Glencoe, IL.  Memorials may be made to the charity of your choice.Directions:  Take the Edens Expressway (I-94 / US Route 41) to Lake Cook Road.  Turn east (heading towards Lake Michigan).  Continue approximately 1.6 mi.  Lake Cook merges into Sheridan Road.  The entrance to the parking lot is on the left approximately 700 ft. after the road turns southward.For additional information, please contact Goldman Funeral Group, (847) 478-1600.—Eric Bronsky


  • Thursday, December 25, 2014 3:34 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    During his childhood, Myles Jarrow traveled to many places with his family using streetcars, interurbans, and intercity trains. His earliest memories of riding streetcars in Chicago dated back to the mid-1920s. Among other local attractions, he enjoyed visiting the Balaban & Katz movie palaces, the various museums, and the Municipal Pier (now called Navy Pier). But observing and riding the colorful streetcars mesmerized him more than anything else.

    Outside of Chicago, Myles was fortunate to experience firsthand many of the streetcar and interurban lines that still operated during the early years of the Depression. Decades later, he would lament not having gotten into photography. But Myles’ photographic memory did a fine job of preserving intricate details from those trips. He prudently saved timetables, brochures, and other memorabilia from his travels.

    Apart from being involved in his family’s company which manufactured refrigerator door gaskets, Myles dabbled briefly in transportation. He and his friend Frank Butts operated a small bus company in Lincoln, Illinois after World War II.

    Myles joined the fledgling Central Electric Railfans’ Association back in 1938. Remarkably, his involvement with CERA would span three-quarters of a century! As Member #23, he was the last surviving member to attend the early meetings. Myles was a gifted speaker who would pair his lucid memories with images from various photographers. He gave several excellent, memorable programs at CERA through the years.

    Myles’ passion for travel continued well into the 21st Century with trips to Europe as well as visits to USA cities with streetcars and light rail. Reduced mobility in later years did not deter him from attending CERA meetings, visiting IRM, or enjoying social visits with friends. His energy and youthful spirit transcended his 92 years. On a more personal level, Myles was a longtime friend. We will miss his always-upbeat attitude, companionship, enthusiasm for the hobby, and great sense of humor. A walking ‘time capsule’ of Chicago in the ’30s and later, Myles was an interviewee for the book Downtown Chicago in Transition, co-authored by Eric Bronsky and Neal Samors.

    Myles passed away on Sunday, December 21. He bequeathed his extensive collection of books and paper items to the Illinois Railway Museum. A memorial service is being planned for Tuesday, December 30 at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois. Details are forthcoming.

    — Eric Bronsky

    Myles at IRM - D Joseph Photo


  • Thursday, December 04, 2014 3:38 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)
    The CERA Members Blog will be back up and running in 2015. In the meantime the organization’s main target will be to have the completed B-146 off to the printer this month so it will be ready for distribution to members and purchasers in mid January 2015. We wish you all the best for a happy holiday season and look forward to seeing you again in the New Year.


  • Monday, December 01, 2014 3:39 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    There was a time, not so long ago really, in February 2013 when we started writing this blog, and we had practically no readers. It seemed that, no matter how good the posts were (and some of the early posts were very good), nobody was paying very much attention.

    We would tell people about the blog, and their usual reaction was, “What is a blog?”

    I am glad to report the situation has changed. We set a new record yesterday with 2,091 page views in a single day, and 13,976 for the month of November. The previous record for page views in a day was 944 and that was just a couple weeks back.

    The 1989 movie Field of Dreams espoused the philosophy, “build it, and they will come.” In the film, Kevin Costner constructs a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield, and pretty soon the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson comes out of the shadows.

    While we can’t claim Shoeless Joe as one of our followers, something similar may be at work here. Over time, as our posts accumulate, there is more and more available here for people to read. Readership has been going up lately, even though there are fewer posts this year than last.

    But we’ll take new readers wherever we can get them. If you have just recently discovered this blog, we’ll do our best to keep up the good work, and keep you both informed and entertained while covering transportation history and current goings-on. IMHO, our best posts use pictures to help tell a story.

    And if, as a result, you discover the group that’s behind it all, Central Electric Railfans’ Association, that’s even better.

    I don’t expect to be seeing the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson anytime soon, but you never know. Stranger things have happened.

    Thanks.

    -Ye Olde Editor

    PS- Just so this post is not entirely devoid of transit-related information, we’ll post a list of the 10 foundung members of the Illinois Railway Museum, courtesy of Carl Lantz:


    Howard R. Blackburn
    Robert W. Gibson
    Charles V. Hess
    Meredith (Butch) Hunter
    Malcolm D. McCarter
    J. W. McDonough
    Howard A. Odinius
    Eugene Van Dusen
    David J. Williams III
    Harry Zillmer

    As Mr. Lantz notes, each contributed $100 to bring Indiana Railroad car 65 to Illinois. Malcolm McCarter is the lone surviving founder, and he still sells railroad photos, as he has been doing since 1942.

    You can read more about IR car 65 in A Tale of Two High Speeds, one of our posts from last year.


  • Saturday, November 29, 2014 3:41 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    Our Next Program:

    Friday, December 26, 2014
    1900 hrs / 7:00pm
    University Center
    525 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605

    ESCAPE THE POLAR VORTEX, WE’RE GOING DOWN UNDER!

    December is sure to bring with it much in the way of cold weather and the possibility of snow and ice. However, in Australia and New Zealand, in the Land Down Under, December is the height of Summer. Long, warm days with lots of sunshine await us Down Under.

    December 26th, Boxing Day in both Australia and New Zealand, promises to bring you exciting videos of the electric trams and cable trams of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and time permitting, recent videos of the current trolley bus operation in Wellington, New Zealand which is slated for abandonment on June 30, 2017.

    Melbourne has the third largest streetcar system in the World, and Wellington has the only left hand trolley buses on the face of the Earth.

    Since CERA will be celebrating the Boxing Day holiday on the night of our program, admission will be free to all attendees as CERA’s holiday gift.

    A grand union in Melbourne. (Jeff Wien Photo - Wien-Criss Archive)

    A grand union in Melbourne. (Jeff Wien Photo – Wien-Criss Archive)

    Melbourne articulated car 3014. (Jeff Wien Photo - Wien-Criss Archive)

    Melbourne articulated car 3014. (Jeff Wien Photo – Wien-Criss Archive)

     

    B-146 Update: Barring any unforeseen problems with our printer, we hope to have B-146 in the hands of our members by the middle of January 2015.

    Lighting Up Kenosha

    From Brad Preston:


    Downtown Kenosha’s 2014 Lightin’ Up and City Tree Lighting event with Kenosha Streetcars 4606 & 4609 (the Chicago and Pittsburgh cars) decorated and filled to capacity!


  • Friday, November 28, 2014 3:51 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    Our Next Program:

    Friday, November 28, 2014
    1900 hrs / 7:00pm
    University Center (Map)

    The North Side “L” by Bruce Moffat

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    Long-time CERA member and author Bruce Moffat recounts the history of Chicago’s North Side “L” in this informative and entertaining program. He will trace its development, beginning with Charles Yerkes‘ battle with the City to extend rapid transit into the north side, followed by upgrading a steam railroad to extend “L” trains into the suburbs. Joint operations with steam- powered freights, electric interurbans and the “L”‘s own electric freight are also covered.

    Mr. Moffat’s books include Forty Feet Below – The Story of Chicago’s Freight TunnelsThe Chicago Tunnel Story: Exploring the Railroad “Forty Feet Below” (CERA B-135), and The “L”: The Development of Chicago’s Rapid Transit System, 1888-1932 (CERA B-131). In addition, he has also authored Shore Line Interurban Historical SocietyDispatches 1 and 5: Cooperation Moves the Public, and The Chicago “L’s” Great Steel Fleet – The Baldies.

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  • Thursday, November 27, 2014 3:54 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    In this Thanksgiving post, we are grateful for the North Shore Line, that fabled interurban that sped between Chicago and Milwaukee, giving faithful service right up until the early morning hours of January 21, 1963.

    CNS&M 744 and 803-804 on a June 17, 1962 CERA fantrip. Can this be the Mundelein branch? (CERA Archives)

    CNS&M 744 and 803-804 on a June 17, 1962 CERA fantrip. Can this be the Mundelein branch? (CERA Archives)

    Central Electric Railfans’ Association had a long, mutually beneficial relationship with the CNS&M, going back to 1938. The North Shore Line allowed CERA to use car 300 as a “club car,” for meetings and excursions, until the wartime cutbacks made this impossible. In the final years, there were many CERA fantrips on the North Shore Line, using a variety of different consists.

    Traditionally, January’s CERA program celebrates the North Shore Line, and 2015 will be no exception. Looking forward to that event, we offer a selection of rare images of the North Shore Line, plus a few additional interesting documents.

    While cold winds may howl outside, there will always be a warm place in our hearts for the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee. We’ve even included a few pictures showing the Electroliners’ “reincarnation” on the Philadelphia & Western as Liberty Liners. We hope that you will enjoy them along with your turkey, stuffing, and cranberries, albeit in lieu of Electroburgers.

    -Ye Olde Editor

    For further reading:

    Descriptive Data on Electroliners (Issued by CNS&M on July 21, 1945)

    An Overview of the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad
     (Issued by CNS&M on July 1, 1944)

    According to this brochure, the first volume in CERA's famed North Shore Line series appeared just a few months before abandonment.

    According to this brochure, the first volume in CERA’s famed North Shore Line series appeared just a few months before abandonment.

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    CNS&M 158 street running. Can one of our keen-eyed readers help identify the location? (CERA Archives)

    CNS&M 158 street running. Can one of our keen-eyed readers help identify the location? (CERA Archives)

    A two-car North Shore train at speed along the Skokie Valley Route. (CERA Archives)

    A two-car North Shore train at speed along the Skokie Valley Route. (CERA Archives)

    An Electroliner berthed at the North Shore Line's Milwaukee terminal- one of "38 fast trains daily." (CERA Archives)

    An Electroliner berthed at the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee terminal- one of “38 fast trains daily.” (CERA Archives)

    CNS&M 156 leads up an outbound six car train just north of Howard, going into the Skokie Valley Route. This came from a "superslide," shot on size 828 Kodachrome roll film, yielding an image slightly larger than 35mm. (W. H. Higginbotham Photo - CERA Archives)

    CNS&M 156 leads up an outbound six car train just north of Howard, going into the Skokie Valley Route. This came from a “superslide,” shot on size 828 Kodachrome roll film, yielding an image slightly larger than 35mm. (W. H. Higginbotham Photo – CERA Archives)

    CNS&M 160 leads a six car train. This car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (CERA Archives)

    CNS&M 160 leads a six car train. This car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (CERA Archives)

    A North Shore Line freight train, headed up by loco 456, in Lake Bluff. (CERA Archives)

    A North Shore Line freight train, headed up by loco 456, in Lake Bluff. (CERA Archives)

    North Shore combine 250 heads up this train on the Lake Street leg of the Loop "L". We are looking north on LaSalle Street, and the cars date the picture to about 1958. According to Don's Rail Photos, "250 was built by Jewett in 1917. It had its seating reduced from 40 to 28 on July 28, 1925."

    North Shore combine 250 heads up this train on the Lake Street leg of the Loop “L”. We are looking north on LaSalle Street, and the cars date the picture to about 1958. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “250 was built by Jewett in 1917. It had its seating reduced from 40 to 28 on July 28, 1925.”

    Electroliner 803-804 at the same location as one of our other pictures, near the Acme Hotel at 809 South State. From a 4x5 negative. (CERA Archives)

    Electroliner 803-804 at the same location as one of our other pictures, near the Acme Hotel at 809 South State. From a 4×5 negative. (CERA Archives)

    The sign on the Acme Hotel identifies this location as being just south of the Loop "L", at about 800 South. The cars date the picture to about 1958. From a 4x5 negative. (CERA Archives)

    The sign on the Acme Hotel identifies this location as being just south of the Loop “L”, at about 800 South. The cars date the picture to about 1958. From a 4×5 negative. (CERA Archives)

    Electroliner 801-802 on the Lake Street leg of Chicago's Loop "L", circa 1958, with a good view of Discount Records at right. From a 4x5 negative. (CERA Archives)

    Electroliner 801-802 on the Lake Street leg of Chicago’s Loop “L”, circa 1958, with a good view of Discount Records at right. From a 4×5 negative. (CERA Archives)

    The Red Arrow logo being applied to a newly christened "Liberty Liner" on January 4, 1964. (David H. Cope Photo - CERA Archives)

    The Red Arrow logo being applied to a newly christened “Liberty Liner” on January 4, 1964. (David H. Cope Photo – CERA Archives)

    Celebrating the introduction of the Liberty Liners on January 26, 1964 in front of the press. Could that man be Merritt H. Taylor Jr., president of the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Co.? (David H. Cope Photo - CERA Archives)

    Celebrating the introduction of the Liberty Liners on January 26, 1964 in front of the press. Could that man be Merritt H. Taylor Jr., president of the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Co.? (David H. Cope Photo – CERA Archives)

    A Liberty Liner on the Red Arrow Lines at 69th Street, parked next to crane R6. (CERA Archives)

    A Liberty Liner on the Red Arrow Lines at 69th Street, parked next to crane R6. (CERA Archives)

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  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014 10:31 AM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    FYI, as of November 11th, I have stepped down from the CERA Board, the position of president, and the archivist for CERA. My personal health has caused me to take these actions as well as the declining health of my elderly mother who is in her 80s. I will continue to perform whatever functions the CERA Board decides that it would like me to perform. Thanks for your support of CERA and our Blog.

    -David Sadowski


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