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  • Monday, November 17, 2014 2:04 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    With turkey day less than two weeks away, there is so much to be thankful for at this time of the year. Therefore, we thought it would be fitting to write a few posts this month about all the things CERA is thankful for.

    As we continue to work hard at finishing up our 146th Bulletin Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, we thank our readers with a sampling of some Chicago streetcar images that, for one reason or another, did not make it into the book.

    Without the help, support and donations of our CERA Members, who have been so generous in sharing with us, books like this would not be possible. We are thankful for that.

    Likewise, this and other such books would be impossible to put out without the tireless efforts of our CERA volunteers, who have logged many thousands of hours in doing research, painstakingly checking and rechecking facts, locations, and a myriad of other details that go into a book such as this.

    Many of the same volunteers also worked very hard going over many of these images in Photoshop, removing thousands of spots, scratches and other imperfections that have found their way into these original images over the course of 60 years. There was a time not that long ago when it would have been impossible to fix these things. But even though the technology is now available, it still takes a lot of “elbow grease” and burning the midnight oil to get the job done. And for that, we are very thankful.

    Even though the photos you see here will not appear in B-146, some of these same techniques were used to undo the ravages of time. The photo from Madison and Pulaski was covered with spots, which have been removed. The picture from 81st and Halsted had a hair over the front of PCC 7211, which is now gone.

    The two pictures from the Clark-Howard loop had been badly faded over the years. They were taken onAnscochrome, an early type of slide film (similar to Ektachrome) that did not have the dye stability ofKodachrome. Using computer magic, it has been possible to “get the red out” and bring back a semblance of the original colors. For this, we are also thankful.

    And finally, we are thankful for everyone who has supported CERA by purchasing a Membership, for either 2014 or 2015. The number of renewals we have already received is very gratifying. Your continued support makes what we do possible.

    Consider becoming a card-carrying Member of CERA today. Joining, and renewing, has never been easier. Just click on this link for further details.  We thank you for your time and consideration.

    -Your CERA Directors

    PS- To read more about the 1956 fantrip where CTA red car 225 was rebadged as 144 for the day, go here.

    CTA Pullman PCC 4076 at Madison and Pulaski in 1949, showing patches of paint of a distinctly darker hue. At one time, this was one of the busiest shopping areas in the city. (James J. Buckley Photo - CERA Archives)

    CTA Pullman PCC 4076 at Madison and Pulaski in 1949, showing patches of paint of a distinctly darker hue. At one time, this was one of the busiest shopping areas in the city. (James J. Buckley Photo – CERA Archives)


    CTA Pullmans 4070 and 4104 westbound at Monroe and Canal on the #20 Madison route in April 1950. (CERA Archives)

    CTA Pullmans 4070 and 4104 westbound at Monroe and Canal on the #20 Madison route in April 1950. (CERA Archives)

    CTA St. Louis-built PCC 7211 and Pullman-built 4116, in contrasting color schemes. We are at 81st and Halsted, facing west, and the time is most likely 1952. (CERA Archives

    CTA St. Louis-built PCC 7211 and Pullman-built 4116, in contrasting color schemes. We are at 81st and Halsted, facing west, and the time is most likely 1952. (CERA Archives)

    CSL experimental pre-PCC 7001, as it looked in 1941 after having been repainted to match the 1936 PCCs, (CERA Archives)

    CSL experimental pre-PCC 7001, as it looked in 1941 after having been repainted to match the 1936 PCCs, (CERA Archives)

    CTA PCC 7143 heads south on Clark Street downtown in the early 1950s. (CERA Archives)

    CTA PCC 7143 heads south on Clark Street downtown in the early 1950s. (CERA Archives)

    The scrapped body shell of Pullman-built PCC 4211 in St. Louis circa 1954. (CERA Archives)

    The scrapped body shell of Pullman-built PCC 4211 in St. Louis circa 1954. (CERA Archives)

    It's December 1956, and we are looking south at the intersection of Clark, Broadway, and Diversey. Car 225 (rebadged as 144) is on a fantrip, followed by a PCC that might be 7238. (CERA Archives)

    It’s December 1956, and we are looking south at the intersection of Clark, Broadway, and Diversey. Car 225 (rebadged as 144) is on a fantrip, followed by a PCC that might be 7238. (CERA Archives)

    CTA Pre-war PCC 7013, retrofitted for one-man operation. (CERA Archives)

    CTA Pre-war PCC 7013, retrofitted for one-man operation. (CERA Archives)

    CTA Pre-war PCC 4026 near the Hotel Florence in the Pullman neighborhood in the early 1950s. retrofitted for one-man operation. (CERA Archives)

    CTA Pre-war PCC 4026 near the Hotel Florence in the Pullman neighborhood in the early 1950s. retrofitted for one-man operation. (CERA Archives)

    CSL PCC 7026, outfitted with experimental roof-mounted forced-air ventilation equipment, similar to that used in Boston. (CERA Archives)

    CSL PCC 7026, outfitted with experimental roof-mounted forced-air ventilation equipment, similar to that used in Boston. (CERA Archives)

    It's July 1954, a month after the end of CTA red car service. But car 597 is still on the scene here at 38th and Cottage Grove. Pre-war PCC 4033 is at right. (Bill Hoffman Photo - Wien-Criss Archive)

    It’s July 1954, a month after the end of CTA red car service. But car 597 is still on the scene here at 38th and Cottage Grove. Pre-war PCC 4033 is at right. (Bill Hoffman Photo – Wien-Criss Archive)

    CTA PCC 7171 at the Clark-Howard loop in 1957. (CERA Archives)

    CTA PCC 7171 at the Clark-Howard loop in 1957. (CERA Archives)

    CTA PCC 7165 at the Clark-Howard loop in 1957. (CERA Archives)

    CTA PCC 7165 at the Clark-Howard loop in 1957. (CERA Archives)

    CTA PCC (#72xx) loaded on a flatcar in February 1957, for its trip down to St. Louis to be stripped for parts used in building rapid transit cars. (CERA Archives)

    CTA PCC (#72xx) loaded on a flatcar in February 1957, for its trip down to St. Louis to be stripped for parts used in building rapid transit cars. (CERA Archives)

    It's March 24, 1954 at Cottage Grove and 115th. CTA PCC 4015 heads the lineup. (CERA Archives)

    It’s March 24, 1954 at Cottage Grove and 115th. CTA PCC 4015 heads the lineup. (CERA Archives)


  • Thursday, November 13, 2014 10:33 AM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    CERA News for November 2014

    Used Book Exchange
    The CERA Used Book Exchange is taking this month off. The continued availability of used books is dependent on the generosity of our Members, and we thank you for both your donations and purchases.

    B-146 Progress Report
    We are in the home stretch of working on Bulletin 146, the Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: the PCC Car Era, 1936-1958. Layout work on the book is essentially complete; the text sections for the book are finished, the nearly 1000 photos selected, locations identified, captions written and double-checked for accuracy. The DVD inserts are already at the printer, as are the reproduction 1936 CSL brochures that will accompany each copy of the book.

    This book will have more pictures, and with better reproduction quality, than any previous CERA book ever.

    We expect the book will soon be in the hands of the printer and 3-4 weeks later, copies will be mailed out from there. This book is a two-year entitlement for those who were CERA Members in 2012 and 2013, and we also are sending it anyone who was a Contributing or Sustaining Member in either year.

    Since we stand behind what we sell, we will cheerfully offer a refund anyone who pre-ordered the book and does not want to wait any longer to receive it. Because the book is already very popular and likely to sell out quickly, we expect that very few people (if any) will take us up on this offer.

    CERA Archives Update
    CERA wishes to thank both Beverly Petzhold and Edward Halstead for their recent donations of material to our Archives. Mrs. Petzhold is the widow of Charlie Petzhold, who died 20 years ago. His personal collection of engineering documents will give us a leg up on required research for a book we are planning, Building Chicago’s Subways. It is hoped that this book can be published in 2018, a year full of anniversaries.

    2018 will be the 80th anniversary of CERA, the 80th anniversary of when construction began on Chicago’s Initial System of Subways, the 75th anniversary of the opening of the State Street Subway,and the 60th anniversary of the opening of the CTA Congress rapid transit line (which was referred to as a “subway,” since it is below grade). It also marks 65 years since the Chicago, Aurora & Elginstopped running downtown due to expressway construction.

    Therefore, considering all these anniversaries, it seems the perfect time for CERA to put out a book on this subject.

    2015 Membership Cards
    We thank those of you who have already renewed your CERA Memberships for 2015. If you have renewed, your Membership card will arrive in your mailbox, along with the November program notice. If you have not yet renewed your membership, we encourage you to do so.  New Members are also welcome!

    We thank you for your support.

    -Your CERA Directors


  • Tuesday, November 04, 2014 10:35 AM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    CTA Retires Last Of 2400-Series Train Cars Built In 1970s

    November 3, 2014 7:34 AM

    CHICAGO (CBS) – The CTA is marking another milestone in the modernization of its rapid transit fleet.

    While many riders may not like the 5000-series ‘L’ cars now under construction, they have allowed CTA to retire its two oldest series of rapid transit cars.

    Fifteen months after retiring the last of the 2200-series ‘L’ cars built beginning in 1969, during the first Nixon presidency, CTA has retired the next-oldest group of ‘L’ cars, the 2400-series cars delivered by Boeing beginning in the fall of 1976 and christened by the first Mayor Daley two months before his death.

    The 2400-series cars were seen all over its rail system until this past year. Their last assignment, oddly enough, was the Orange Line — a place they had never run till recently. The last were removed from service after the Friday morning rush hour. A couple dozen of the cars, with red-and-white stripes on the ends and sides, will remain indefinitely for maintenance purposes.

    The last of the controversial 5000-series ‘L’ cars should be delivered next year. More than 550 of the planned 714 cars are now in service. CTA has released specifications for its next group of rapid transit cars, which would allow CTA to retire all cars older than the 5000 series by 2022.

    CTA 2561-2562 leads the way southbound at Wabash and Van Buren on June 27, 2014. (CERA Archives)

    CTA 2561-2562 leads the way southbound at Wabash and Van Buren on June 27, 2014 (CERA Archives)

    Video of the 2400-series "L" cars in Orange Line service on June 17, 2014 (CERA Archives)

    Another video

  • Monday, November 03, 2014 2:07 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

    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 Society Dispatches 1 and 5: Cooperation Moves the Public, and The Chicago “L’s” Great Steel Fleet – The Baldies.

    CTA trains of 4000s and 6000s are southbound between Argyle and Lawrence in this early 1970s view. (CERA Archives)

    CTA trains of 4000s and 6000s are southbound between Argyle and Lawrence in this early 1970s view. (CERA Archives)

    A CTA single car unit heads south at the old Isabella station, just south of the Linden Avenue terminal in the 1960s. (CERA Archives)

    A CTA single car unit heads south at the old Isabella station, just south of the Linden Avenue terminal in the 1960s. (CERA Archives)

    A North Shore Line fantrip train at Buena Yard in the late 1950s. (Ken Spengler Photo - CERA Archives)

    A North Shore Line fantrip train at Buena Yard in the late 1950s. (Ken Spengler Photo – CERA Archives)

    On a snowy winter day in the late 1950s, a southbound two car North Shore Line train, headed up by 724, navigates the local track near Sheridan Road. (CERA Archives)

    On a snowy winter day in the late 1950s, a southbound two car North Shore Line train, headed up by 724, navigates the local track near Sheridan Road. (CERA Archives)



  • Tuesday, October 28, 2014 3:11 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    Here is our seventh list of used books for sale. Copies of List #7 and an order form have been mailed to all current CERA Members.

    Used books, donated by our members, are being sold to raise money to help fund CERA programs and services. Since we are a 501(c)(3) organization, such donations may be tax deductible. Do you have used traction books that you no longer need? If so, why not donate them to the CERA Used Book Exchange? We thank our donors.

    HOW TO ORDER – You can pay by check through the mail using this form, or online using PayPal or acredit/debit card. Please do not send your credit card information through the mail. As items are sold or added, we will update the online version of the list here.

    As books are sold, we will cross them out on the online list, like this. You can download and print out a copy of List #7 here.

    You can also contact the CERA Office by telephone at 312-987-4391. If we are not available, leave a message and we will get back to you.  We are in the office most weekday afternoons.

    To order books online, drop us a line at ceraoffice@gmail.com and CERA will e-mail you back an invoice that you can pay using PayPal or a debit/credit card.

    All sales are final. Used books are sold without warranty or guarantee. No haggling or quantity discounts- the items here are priced to move. Please do not ask us to put items on “hold” for you. Books will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Current (2014) CERA Members in the United States get FREE SHIPPING. Other Domestic buyers pay $5 Shipping and Handling per book ($3 for the ERHS bulletins). International shipping is available by special request. Contact us and we will work up a quote based on actual cost.

    Books are graded as ExcellentGoodFair, or Poor. Significant damage is noted, where observed. Some amount of normal wear is to be expected in books that are “of a certain age.”

    When using the mail-in form, in the unlikely event of an overpayment, if a book you want is no longer available, please indicate whether you would prefer a refund, or a credit that can be applied to a future purchase. If you send your order by mail, keep a copy of the form for your records.

    Please note: Illinois residents must include 9.25% sales tax with payment.

    CERA Used Book Exchange List #7 (Updated as of October 28, 2014):

    Stock # Description Publisher Date Cover Cond. Price # Notes
    UBE110 The Shore Line Electric Railway Company CERA 2007 H EX $40.00 B-139 Like New
    UBE131 Electric Railways of Northeastern Ohio CERA 1965 H G $30.00 B-108 DJ worn, otherwise OK
    UBE133 Not Only Passengers CERA 1992 H EX $20.00 B-129  
    UBE134 Chicago Surface Lines THP 1979 H EX $35.00   By Lind – Third Edition
    UBE135 The Green Line CERA 2000 H EX $25.00 B-134 Like New
    UBE137 Cincinnati Streetcars v9 Streamliners and War Horses WCC 1984 S G $25.00   By Wagner and Wright
    UBE138 TravElectric CERA 2009 H G $25.00 B-143  
    UBE140 How the Medal Was Won CERA 1985 H EX $10.00 B-124  
    UBE141 The Colorful Streetcars We Rode CERA 1986 S G $15.00 B-125  
    UBE142 Northern Indiana Railway CERA 1998 H EX $20.00 B-132  
    UBE143 The Chicago & West Towns Railways CERA 2006 H EX $30.00 B-138 Like New
    UBE147 Illinois Traction System CERA 1954 S G $45.00 B-98 Spiral bound
    UBE153 CERA Bulletins 20-34 CERA 1977 S G $15.00   Reprint
    UBE156 North Shore- America’s Fastest Interurban GW 1964 H F $10.00   By Middleton
    UBE159 Electric Railways of Indiana III CERA 1960 S G $40.00 B-104 Spiral bound
    UBE160 Electric Railways of Northeastern Ohio CERA 1965 H G $30.00 B-108 No DJ
    UBE161 The NOT&L Story CERA 1966 H G $30.00 B-109 Northern Ohio
    UBE162 West Penn Traction CERA 1968 H G $30.00 B-110 DJ worn, otherwise OK
    UBE163 Electrification by GE CERA 1976 H EX $25.00 B-116  
    UBE164 Detroit’s Street Railways vI CERA 1978 H G $25.00 B-117 DJ faded, otherwise OK
    UBE165 Westinghouse Electric Railway Transportation CERA 1979 H EX $25.00 B-118  
    UBE166 Detroit’s Street Railways vII CERA 1980 H G $25.00 B-120 DJ worn, otherwise OK
    UBE167 Texas Electric CERA 1982 H G $30.00 B-121 DJ worn, otherwise OK
    UBE168 Ft. Wayne and Wabash Valley Trolleys CERA 1983 H G $20.00 B-122  
    UBE169 Detroit’s Street Railways vIII CERA 1984 H G $25.00 B-123 DJ worn, otherwise OK
    UBE170 Every Hour On the Hour (WB&A) CERA 1993 H EX $70.00 B-130  
    UBE171 The Near-Side Car; the Legacy of Thomas E. Mitten   1994 S EX $35.00   By Borgnis; signed
    UBE172 South Shore Line – America’s Last Interurban GW 1970 H G $15.00   By Middleton
    UBE173 Chicago Surface Lines THP 1974 H G $20.00   By Lind – First Edition, no DJ
    UBE174 The Story of the Cedar Valley Road PF 2007 S G $15.00   WCF&N
    UBE175 100 Years of Capital Traction TPC 1972 H G $40.00   By King; Worn DJ
    UBE176 Trolley Sparks Special #1 CERA 2013 S EX $25.00 TSS1 Like New


  • Sunday, October 26, 2014 3:21 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    CERA News for 10-26-2014

    We wish to thank everyone who attended Friday night’s program on the Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric.  A fine time was had by all, and we especially wish to thank William Shapotkin, our presenter.  It’s safe to say that no one else has a collection of images like Bill’s, or his a unique sense of humor.

    We were fortunate to have two used copies of Bill’s out-of-print 2004 book Faster Than the Limiteds(CERA B-137) for sale that night.  Both were purchased, and autographed.

    Used Book Exchange

    Our next used book list was mailed to our Members on the 15th. The continued availability of used books is dependent on the generosity of our Members, and we thank you for both your donations and purchases. The list information will also be posted online (www.cerablog.com) later today. This is done to give our “snail mail” crowd more of an even chance at getting books.

    Chicago PCC Weekend

    We thank all those who participated in our three Chicago PCC Weekend events in late September. A very large crowd turned out for the Chicago Streetcar Pictorial Round Table (26th). The event was videotaped for the CERA Archives.

    In particular, we would like to thank our Round Table panel of experts: Roy BenedictRay DeGroote,Bob HeinleinGeorge KanaryJohn NicholsonBernie RossbachDavid SadowskiKen Spengler, and Jeff WienTruman Hefner participated via telephone.

    We still have some of the commemorative 11×17” color posters, suitable for framing, that were made for this event. If you would like to purchase one, the cost is $8.50, which includes shipping within the US. You can order these by mail or via our website (www.cera-chicago.org) starting on October 27th. Don’t hesitate, since supplies are limited.

    We continued our celebration of Chicago’s PCCs streetcars on Saturday (27th) and Sunday (28th) withInspection Trips to the Kenosha (Wisconsin) Streetcar and the Illinois Railway Museum. We had excellent weather on both days, and a fine time was had by all. We thank MCERA Vince Allen’s Victory Bus Service for providing round-trip transportation between the Crystal Lake Metra station and IRM.

    B-146 Progress Report

    We are in the home stretch of working on Bulletin 146, the Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: the PCC Car Era, 1936-1958. Layout work on the book is essentially complete; the text sections for the book are finished, the nearly 1000 photos selected, locations identified, captions written and double-checked for accuracy. TheDVD inserts are already at the printer, as are the reproduction 1936 CSL brochures that will accompany each copy of the book.

    This book will have more pictures, and with better reproduction quality, than any previous CERA book ever.

    However, when we started working on the book’s images using Photoshop, looking at the scans under high magnification, it became apparent that there were many imperfections in the 60-year-old slides and negs that require attention. Since an individual image may have upwards of a thousand “fixes” that need to be made, to make things look just as they did when the picture was originally taken, this has proven to be a time-consuming process. But this work is now almost finished.

    We expect the book will be in the hands of the printer soon, and copies will be mailed out to our Members and other purchasers before the end of the year. This book is a two-year entitlement for those who were CERA Members in 2012 and 2013, and we also are sending it anyone who was a Contributing or Sustaining Member in either year.

    Since we stand behind what we sell, we will cheerfully offer a refund anyone who pre-ordered the book and does not want to wait any longer to receive it. Because the book is already very popular and likely to sell out quickly, we expect that very few people (if any) will take us up on this offer.

    2015 Membership Cards

    We thank those of you who have already renewed your CERA Memberships for 2015. Membership cards will be mailed out along with the November program notice. If you have not yet renewed your membership, we encourage you to do so.

    You can renew online, using either PayPal or a credit/debit card.  You can also print out a form to use when mailing in a check.

    We thank you for your continued support.

    -Your CERA Directors

    Here’s something you don’t see every day… a cat riding on a CTA “L” train. Looks like this couple takes their cat everywhere they go. (Blue Line, October 22, 2014)

    PS- Our friends at the Illinois Railway Museum are hosting a rare fantrip on the Metra Electric on Sunday, November 9.  This will be the first Metra fantrip in several years:

    Snowflake Special Excursion on the Metra Electric
    Sunday, November 9, 2014

    Metra Electric Highliners
    This Snowflake Special Excursion is a fundraiser to acquire and preserve a set of Highliners, similar to those shown here.

    Purchase tickets online now!Join the members of the Illinois Railway Museum as they tour the Metra Electric District lines. This is IRM’s first excursion on the former Illinois Central electrified suburban service since 1979. We’ll be riding aboard Highliner cars built by St. Louis Car and Bombardier from 1971-1979, which are rapidly being replaced by new Nippon Sharyo cars.

    Departure: 9:40AM from Millennium Station (Randolph St.) on Michigan Ave. between Randolph and South Water Streets in downtown Chicago. Riders may also board at 55th-56th-57th St. on the Metra Electric at approximately 10:10AM. We plan to meet Metra train 8306, the 9:49 from South Chicago, and South Shore train 504, the 9:01 (EST) express from South Bend, at 55th-56th-57th St., although we cannot guarantee connections. Parking in downtown Chicago is difficult and expensive; we recommend parking in Metra, CTA, or other appropriate lots and riding the `L to Randolph/Wabash. CTA schedules and parking information are available at www.transitchicago.com, and Metra information at www.metrarail.com.

    Fare: $50.00 per person.Orders received after October 25 will be held for pickup at Millennium Station. No refunds after October 25, 2014.

    Lunch: 90 minutes will be given for lunch on your own in Richton Park. A list of suggested restaurants within a 10 minute walk of the station will be provided; please plan to patronize one, as seating and restrooms in the station are very limited.

    The trip will conclude at Millennium Station about 4:15PM. We may be able to accommodate earlier stops upon request.

    This Snowflake Special excursion is a fundraiser to acquire and preserve a set of Highliners.

    Purchase tickets online now!


  • Tuesday, October 21, 2014 3:28 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    Our Next Program:
    The Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric by William Shapotkin

    Friday, October 24, 2014 1900 hrs / 7:00pm
    University Center, 525 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605

    Chicago is famous for the three great “Insull Interurbans” which radiated east north and west from Chicago. The South Shore Line, of course, is famous for having survived all the other rail interurban railways — and still operating today. The North Shore Line — the famous “Route of the Electroliners” — was known for its high-speed operation through the Skokie Valley and its street operations in Milwaukee. The Chicago Aurora & Elgin (“The Great Third Rail”) provided fast, frequent electrified service between Chicago and the Fox River Valley terminals of Aurora, Batavia, Elgin and Geneva-St Charles.

    Almost forgotten is the Aurora Elgin and Fox River — which operated between Carpentersville and Yorkville along the Fox River. Unlike the three “Insull Interurbans,” the AE&FR did not service Chicago. Instead, it connected the interdependent communities of Carpentersville, Dundee, Elgin, St Charles, Geneva, Batavia, Aurora, Oswego and Yorkville. The Carpentersville-Elgin and Montgomery-Yorkville portions of the line were history before the Depression. Regularly-scheduled rail passenger service ended in March 1935. Unlike its cousins the CA&E and the CNS&M, scheduled transit service six-days-a-week (Monday thru Saturday) along most if its route (Carpentersville and Aurora) still operates — albeit in the form of its rubber-tired successor, PACE. Thus, the argument could be made that the AE&FR was more of a success than either the CA&E or the CNS&M.

    A short segment of the railroad (Elgin State Mental Hospital-Coleman) remained in common-carrier freight service until 1973. Even with the end of rail freight service, a short 1 1/2 mile segment of the line (in the form of the Fox River Trolley Museum) is still operating between South Elgin and Coleman…a continuously-operating railroad since the 1890s!

    Come join us for this journey into the past (and present) along one of America’s most successful interurbans, the Aurora Elgin & Fox River. Our journey will include a short trip over the oft-forgotten Fox & Illinois Union between Yorkville and Morris.

    Mr. Shapotkin is the author of Faster Than the Limiteds, CERA Bulletin 137 (2004) and is also Auditorium Manager of the annual Hoosier Traction meet in Indianapolis. We look forward to seeing you there!

    Admission is free for current CERA members. There will be a $5.00 Admission charge for non-members.

    A CERA fantrip on the freight-only AE&FRE (September 2, 1940). Another such trip took place in 1944. (CERA Archives)

    A CERA fantrip on the freight-only AE&FRE (September 2, 1940). Another such trip took place in 1944. (CERA Archives)

    ex-AE&FRE 306 and 304 in service on the Cleveland Rapid. The latter car now resides at the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin. 306 is at the Illinois Railway Museum. (CERA Archives)

    ex-AE&FRE 306 and 304 in service on the Cleveland Rapid. The latter car now resides at the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin. 306 is at the Illinois Railway Museum. (CERA Archives)

    AE&FRE 304 on a CERA fantrip at the Fox River Trolley Museum on September 22, 2013. (David Sadowski Photo - CERA Archives)

    AE&FRE 304 on a CERA fantrip at the Fox River Trolley Museum on September 22, 2013. (David Sadowski Photo – CERA Archives)

  • Thursday, October 16, 2014 3:31 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    Our recent visit to Pittsburgh (see our earlier post for part 1) centered around a fantrip on the PAT (Port Authority of Allegheny Countylight rail system, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum. This was said to be the first fantrip on PAT in about 15 years, since the end of PCC service on the former Drake shuttle.

    2014 is the 50th anniversary of PAT taking over from Pittsburgh Railways, and to celebrate this, they have decorated one of the LRVs in Pittsburgh Railways colors. Last year, we very much enjoyed our trip to Philadelphia to ride on a fantrip celebrating the 100th anniversary of the SEPTA Media trolley, which used an LRV decorated in “Red Arrow” colors. We had been under the impression that something similar would be done in Pittsburgh.

    Deciding whether to ride, or to chase a fantrip is always a difficult decision, especially when non-revenue trackage will be used, and the Pittsburgh trip was no exception. We decided to chase the two-car train (or, as Bernie Rossbach likes to say, we “motorcaded” it). It wasn’t a question of not wanting to spend the money for a ticket, since between the three of us on the trip, we had purchased four fantrip seats from PTM on the sold-out trip.

    The possibility of photographing the “Pittsburgh Railways” LRV was enticing, and 125 people can get in each other’s way on photo stops, which generally need to be brief when a fantrip train is running between regular service cars. For me, the most interesting parts of the PAT system are the short stretches of street running, and photo stops in these areas would not be practical for such a large group anyway. Some of the planned photo stops were in the Downtown subway, not necessarily most photogenic of locations.

    Needless to say, things did not go exactly as planned. As it turned out, the 50th Anniversary car was not used on the fantrip, but was instead parked in the subway, where the fans were assembled in front of it for a group picture. We are not sure whether the car was inoperative or what. This meant that from the standpoint of photographs, the fantrip train looked just like any other two-car set on the Pittsburgh system, except for a small sign taped to the back window.

    The fantrip did operate on a few areas of non-revenue trackage, including about 600 feet (all that still has overhead wire) of the former Drake shuttle, which last ran on September 4, 1999. Apparently, once service was extended to South Hills Village in 1984, ridership on Drake evaporated, and 15 years later, the short branch line was abandoned.

    The Pittsburgh system has gone through many changes since I last rode it in 1985, with the Overbrook section being completely rebuilt, and the Downtown subway extended to the new home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    We first caught up with the fantrip train at St. Anne’s and then raced to meet it again in Allentown. Here the fantrip cars used bypass trackage that goes “over the hill” instead of the usual route through the Mount Washington Transit Tunnel.

    In 1985, I rode a PCC car on the Allentown trackage, which was given its own route (52) for a time. Now it is used only when the tunnel is not available.

    Next, we headed to the Beechview neighborhood, where there is about a mile of street running, a fragment of an older time when Pittsburgh Railways operated a very extensive streetcar system. we caught up with the fantrip one last time at the Library station, where they had a photo stop. The configuration of the this terminal will remind Chicago fans very much of the Dempster station on the CTA Yellow Line.

    We hope that you will enjoy our photos and videos of our excursion. Unless another photographer is credited, they are my work. Despite our disappointment that the 50th Anniversary car was not used on the trip, a fine time was had by all, and the Pittsburgh system has evolved into something very interesting, always worth a trip.

    -David Sadowski

    Video of the fantrip train at St. Anne’s

    Video of the fantrip train in Allentown

    Video of the fantrip train in Beechview

    Video of the fantrip train at Library

    PAT 4318 and 4306 meet at Shiras on Broadway Ave., October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4318 and 4306 meet at Shiras on Broadway Ave., October 5, 2014.


    PAT 4255 inbound near St. Anne's on October 4, 2014.

    PAT 4255 inbound near St. Anne’s on October 4, 2014.

    PAT 4255 inbound near St. Anne's on October 4, 2014.

    PAT 4255 inbound near St. Anne’s on October 4, 2014.

    PAT 4321 outbound approaching St. Anne's on October 4, 2014.

    PAT 4321 outbound approaching St. Anne’s on October 4, 2014.

    PAT 4321 outbound approaching St. Anne's on October 4, 2014.

    PAT 4321 outbound approaching St. Anne’s on October 4, 2014.

    PAT 4308 outbound approaching St. Anne's on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4308 outbound approaching St. Anne’s on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4308 outbound approaching St. Anne's on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4308 outbound approaching St. Anne’s on October 5, 2014.

    The PAT fantrip train, led by 4213, on the Allentown "over the hill" bypass trackage on October 5, 2014. This is the former route 52.

    The PAT fantrip train, led by 4213, on the Allentown “over the hill” bypass trackage on October 5, 2014. This is the former route 52.

    PAT 4210 brings up the rear of the fantrip train as it traverses the Allentown "over the hill" trackage, which is not normally used in service (October 5, 2014). (Diana Koester Photo)

    PAT 4210 brings up the rear of the fantrip train as it traverses the Allentown “over the hill” trackage, which is not normally used in service (October 5, 2014). (Diana Koester Photo)

    Outbound PAT 4237 entering street trackage at Fallowfield on October 5, 2014.

    Outbound PAT 4237 entering street trackage at Fallowfield on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4305 inbound approaching Fallowfield station on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4305 inbound approaching Fallowfield station on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4305 inbound approaching Fallowfield station on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4305 inbound approaching Fallowfield station on October 5, 2014.

    Outbound PAT 4237 leaves the Fallowfield station and enters a mile or so of street trackage along Broadway in the Beechview neighborhood (October 5, 2014).

    Outbound PAT 4237 leaves the Fallowfield station and enters a mile or so of street trackage along Broadway in the Beechview neighborhood (October 5, 2014).

    Outbound PAT 4237 on Broadway near Fallowfield in the Beechview neighborhood (October 5, 2014).

    Outbound PAT 4237 on Broadway near Fallowfield in the Beechview neighborhood (October 5, 2014).

    Inbound PAT 4305 on Broadway approaching Fallowfield in the Beechview neighborhood (October 5, 2014).

    Inbound PAT 4305 on Broadway approaching Fallowfield in the Beechview neighborhood (October 5, 2014).

    PAT 4318 outbound on Broadway Ave. at Hampshire in the Beechview neighborhood on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4318 outbound on Broadway Ave. at Hampshire in the Beechview neighborhood on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4318 outbound on Broadway Ave. at Hampshire in the Beechview neighborhood on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4318 outbound on Broadway Ave. at Hampshire in the Beechview neighborhood on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4312 inbound on Broadway Ave. at Hampshire in the Beechview neighborhood on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4312 inbound on Broadway Ave. at Hampshire in the Beechview neighborhood on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4204 outbound on Broadway Ave. at Shiras in the Beechview neighborhood on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4204 outbound on Broadway Ave. at Shiras in the Beechview neighborhood on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4204 outbound on Broadway Ave. at Shiras in the Beechview neighborhood on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4204 outbound on Broadway Ave. at Shiras in the Beechview neighborhood on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4204 outbound on Broadway Ave. in Beechview, preparing to enter private right-of-way on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4204 outbound on Broadway Ave. in Beechview, preparing to enter private right-of-way on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4237 inbound on Broadway Ave. at Shiras in the Beechview neighborhood on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4237 inbound on Broadway Ave. at Shiras in the Beechview neighborhood on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4237 inbound on Broadway Ave. at Shiras in the Beechview neighborhood on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4237 inbound on Broadway Ave. at Shiras in the Beechview neighborhood on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4318 and 4306 meet at Shiras on Broadway Ave., October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4318 and 4306 meet at Shiras on Broadway Ave., October 5, 2014.

    The PAT fantrip train, led by 4213, prepares to depart Library station while regular service car 4225 will go into the pocket track (October 5, 2014).

    The PAT fantrip train, led by 4213, prepares to depart Library station while regular service car 4225 will go into the pocket track (October 5, 2014).

    The PAT fantrip train, led by 4213, prepares to depart Library station while regular service car 4225 will go into the pocket track (October 5, 2014).

    The PAT fantrip train, led by 4213, prepares to depart Library station while regular service car 4225 will go into the pocket track (October 5, 2014).

    The PAT fantrip train, led by 4213, prepares to depart Library station while regular service car 4225 will go into the pocket track (October 5, 2014).

    The PAT fantrip train, led by 4213, prepares to depart Library station while regular service car 4225 will go into the pocket track (October 5, 2014).

    PAT 4225 turning back at the end of the line at the Library station, on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4225 turning back at the end of the line at the Library station, on October 5, 2014.

    Not sure why the doors were opened on both sides of car 4225, shown here at the Library station on October 5, 2014.

    Not sure why the doors were opened on both sides of car 4225, shown here at the Library station on October 5, 2014.

    An unusual view of car 4225, at the Library station on October 5, 2014.

    An unusual view of car 4225, at the Library station on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4253 at South Hills Village on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4253 at South Hills Village on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4253 at South Hills Village on October 5, 2014.

    PAT 4253 at South Hills Village on October 5, 2014.


  • Thursday, October 09, 2014 3:34 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    In 1985, I was fortunate to ride the last PCC streetcar on the downtown streets of Pittsburgh. While I have passed through the Steel City a couple times since then, I hadn’t the opportunity to spend much time until last weekend.

    The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum (formerly Arden) in Washington, PA is one of the best in the country. Much has been done there in the nearly 30 years since my last visit. There are more historic cars, a storage barn with a sprinkler system, a visitor center, and more track to run them on.

    Everyone at the museum was friendly,enthusiastic, knowledgeable and helpful. Plan a visit if you have the chance- it’s well worth the trip. Washington is about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh.

    PTM is also notable because a portion of their track is a remnant of the old Pittsburgh Railways interurban that ran to Washington until August 1953. In February 1954, just before the interurban was dismantled, the museum’s first three cars were brought in via that trackage.

    In 2012, CERA covered the Pittsburgh Railways saga pretty thoroughly in Transit in the Triangle Vol. 1, by Blaine S. Hays and James A. Toman. You can purchase a copy here.

    Here are some PTM snapshots for your enjoyment. We will run another photo contest. You will have one week (contest ends midnight on Thursday, October 16, 2014) to identify the various cars shown here from the museum’s collection. The submission with the best overall answers will win a copy of our new DVD data disc CERA’s “Spirit of 76″ (containing our first 76 Bulletins and more). Send your entries to cerablog1@gmail.com, and refer to each photo using the numbers provided. Good luck on your sleuthing.

    -David Sadowski

    PS- We’ll show our photos of Pittsburgh’s light rail system in part 2. Watch this space.

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  • Tuesday, September 30, 2014 3:42 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    CERA’s Chicago PCC Weekend went off without a hitch, and we thank all our Members who took part. This is the first of three posts recapping those events.

    On Sunday, September 28, we visited the Illinois Railway Museum, where we chartered three different cars- the CTA “Green Hornet” PCC 4391, Chicago & West Towns 141, and Chicago, Aurora & Elgin wood car 36 (which ran by itself for the first time at IRM, instead of in a train).

    The people at IRM could not have been nicer. In particular, we have to thank our operators Joel Ahrendt (4391), Frank Sirinek (141), and Randy Hicks (36), who made sure everything ran smoothly. Thanks also go out to both Nick Kallas and Joe Stupar, who made all of this possible. We also need to give a shout out to MCERA Vince Allen, who piloted our chartered bus between IRM and the Crystal Lake Metra station.

    We have something of a mutual admiration society going on with the Hicks Car Works blog, and if you would like to read a bit about all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes at IRM, that’s a good place to start. Our trip on the 36 gets mentioned in this post.

    Our photos will give you a taste of what our trip was like. The weather couldn’t have been much better, with comfortable temps and lots of sun. We ran the 4391 and 141 for a few trips on the trolley loop, and then boarded the 36 at the 50th Avenue “L” station (which I remember using when it was still in Cicero) for a trip out on the main line, including a “run by” at Seeman Road.

    CA&E 36 is 112 years old, so the fact it can still run under its own power is pretty remarkable. It has only been a few years since it came to IRM from the Trolleyville collection, and now has a bright future ahead of it. Interestingly, both the 4391 and 141 owe their survival to the Electric Railway Historical Society.

    At Friday night’s CERA meting, we saw rare movie footage of C&WT cars 140 and 141 being used as storage sheds in Lisle during the early 1950s. To actually be able to ride the 141 today, lovingly restored using parts scrounged from all over the world, is nothing short of miraculous.

    We have included some pictures of the regular service equipment at the museum that day, which included the CSL streetcar 3142 on the trolley loop, and Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 714 and 749 on the main line.

    Boston (ex-Dallas) double-end PCC 3334 made a cameo appearance at 50th Avenue. This car is not part of the IRM collection, but has been stored there for the McKinney Avenue crowd down in Dallas. I understand the car will be moved to Dallas soon where it will be lovingly restored. That’s fortunate, because the car is in sad shape currently, with just about every window broken, and the car covered in rust.

    Once again, we tip our hats to the dedicated volunteers at IRM, who could not have been any more gracious and helpful. If you have not visited the museum lately, it’s worth the trip.

    -David Sadowski

    PS- Watch this space for additional posts about our Chicago PCC Weekend events. All the photos here were taken by David Sadowski.

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