A special highlight of CERA’s trip to the Illinois Railway Museum on September 21st was the unique “Insull Parade,” featuring historic trains from all four Chicago-area railroads once controlled by Samuel Insull.
These were the Chicago Rapid Transit Co., the Chicago South Shore & South Bend, Chicago Aurora & Elgin, and the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee. Under Insull’s management, these properties were expanded and modernized, but fell victim to the Great Depression of the 1930s, and all fell into receivership. In the 1920s, it seemed as though business conditions would simply continue to improve forever; however, the stock market crash in October 1929 proved otherwise, leaving the Insull empire badly overextended.
But the positive effects of Insull management lasted far beyond the Depression. CRT became part of the Chicago Transit Authority in 1947, and CTA continued to use equipment purchased by Insull in regular service until 1973. Without the Insull-led modernization of the late 1920s, it’s very unlikely the South Shore Line would have survived to still be with us today. Even the two interurbans that did not survive (CA&E and CNS&M) lasted for decades beyond Insull ownership.
Fortunately, there are operable examples of cars from all four properties at IRM, and to help celebrate our 75th anniversary, CERA made special arrangements to run them on September 21st. Today, we feature the excellent photography of longtime CERA member and Director Jeff Wien, courtesy of the Wien-Criss Archive.
All four pictures were taken at Olson Road, as the various cars did a “run-by” in the Insull Parade. We hope that you enjoy them. These cars look so good at this locale, that you would almost swear this was real interurban territory, and not simply a demonstration railroad at a railway museum.
PS- We recently received the following message from Frank Kehoe:
I am a volunteer at the Illinois Railway Museum currently involved in the restoration of Chicago Rapid Transit car 1024. This car is an 1898 product of the Pullman Co. and is the oldest rapid transit car in the IRM collection. It is being restored to its appearance in 1913 at the time of the consolidation.
We want to restore the roof mounted marker lights and destination signs the car had in 1913. These items are depicted on pages 36 and 38 of CERA Bulletin 113 on cars 8 and 1034. We do not have either of these items to use on the restored car.
Our current intention is to reproduce these marker lights and destination signs as best as we can from the photos. I am wondering if any members of CERA had either of these items that we could either use in the restoration or at least examine so that they could be reproduced as faithfully as possible.
Any help you or your members could give in this project would be appreciated.
If anyone can help with the above, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pass it along to Mr. Kehoe, thanks.