CERA Mailbag for December 2013

Our post The Preservation Movement in Early Days, Part 2 (April 22, 2013) included this photo, which says it shows the last Dayton trolley on September 28, 1947. (Photographer unknown)

Our post The Preservation Movement in Early Days, Part 2 (April 22, 2013) included this photo, which says it shows the last Dayton trolley on September 28, 1947. (Photographer unknown)

Tom Morrow writes:

You have a very interesting shot of a Dayton City Railway car on your blog page above. Not sure if you know how unique the photo is … but I’ll explain.

What you have captured is the Dayton operation *after* the abandonment of streetcar service in September 1947. The 1947 World Series advertised on the car was from Sept 30-Oct 6.

Pullman Standard trolleybuses 401-445 indeed replaced the last of the City Railway streetcar operation in Dayton in August (Route 2 – Fifth St) and September (Route 1 – Third St).

However, the west end of Route 1, from Elmhurst Rd (site of today’s RTA Westown Hub) to Miller Road had originally been built and operated as a single track line by the Dayton and Western interurban along the north side of US-35. The D&W stopped operating in 1937. City Railway bought the right of way from Elmhurst to Miller and began operating streetcars along that single track route. A wholly owned subsidiary of City Railway, the Drexel Transit Co, operated that service, which had a separate fare past Elmhurst Rd.

When the streetcars were abandoned, the State of Ohio had not yet approved the hanging of trolleybus overhead on US-35, so City Railway continued to operate a shuttle car linked up with the trolleybuses on Third St and Elmhurst Rd along Third from Elmhurst to Miller Rd from September to November 1947. The “standard” shuttle car was 672, and it had been specially modified in early September 1947 with trolley poles at both ends and a full controller at the back end (in effect the single end car was made double ended, although they didn’t cut doors into the old left side). Occasionally, it’s said that old 72 (aka “Barney”, built in 1902 for City Railway) also operated the route when 672 wasn’t available.

The reason City Railway made it double ended was … while there was a loop at the west end of the line at Miller Rd, the trackage at the east end at Elmhurst was complicated, and without several wye movements, a normal single end car couldn’t easily be turned at Elmhurst. So, City Railway double ended 672 to avoid having to make such a movement in revenue service.

Your photo shows this operation post-September 1947, but likely early, due to the World Series advertisement. The car is at Miller Rd and we are looking at the former rear end of the car. It’s unclear why the operator is putting up the pole, as there was a perfectly good loop behind him … and if he’d gone around the loop, the passengers wouldn’t be entering and exiting the streetcar on the road side of the car. While extraordinarily unsafe, they operated with the doors on the road side most of the time, as most of the stops on the non-road side of the line didn’t have fill to get to the steps.


Thanks… if that doesn’t show how one picture is worth 1000 words, I don’t know what does.

Vikram Rao writes:

Does your organization ever get a chance to do behind the scenes tours of the Chicago El? If so, would love to learn more.

CERA does not offer such tours, sorry, but I understand that CTA’s Skokie Shops used to have an “open house” once per year. Not sure if they still do, but you can find photos and videos from past tours by doing a Google search. The most recent CERA fantrip on the CTA took place in November 2012.

Here is a video tour of the outside of Skokie Shops, taken from the 2010 CTA “Snowflake Special.”

You can link to a .pdf file of the 1958 track map using the link given below.

You can look at a .pdf file of the 1958 track map using the link given below.

Vernon Hallas writes:

I was digging around and found this, I think it might be an interesting addition to the Garfield L to Congress median blog. This is not an ordinary route map, this is an internal CTA document from June 1958. This is my personal property, not something I downloaded. I’ve had this for at least 10 years, maybe more. I wish I could tell you where I bought it but I don’t remember. It has some flaws but I fear damaging it if I try to clean it so I left well enough alone. Should you find this of interest, please feel free to distribute it as you see fit.

We’ll do that, thanks! You can view the June 1958 CTA Rapid Transit Track Map here.

There are some interesting things to note on the map. First, the location of where the B&O would cross the CTA is wrong. The map shows it as being east of Harlem, while the grade-separated crossing is actually west of the station.

Next, the old Met “L” was still in place between the Lake Street “L” and the northwest end of the Milwaukee-Dearborn subway. One track was in use for shop moves. This section was torn down circa 1964. Service had ended in 1951.

Not far from there, as of 1958, a section of the Humboldt Park branch (out of service since 1952) was still in place. According to the Forgotten Chicago blog post “Remnants of the “L”, it too was torn down in the mid-1960s.

The story I heard for why it was kept is that this is where CA&E trains would have been stored, had service to the Loop resumed.

Finally, you may notice that even after the Congress median line opened in June 1958, there was still a connection to the old Laramie Yard. This would have connected to the new r-o-w just west of the Lotus tunnel, running at grade.

This would have prevented the extension of the Congress expressway west of Laramie. Since the highway was opened to Central in January 1960, the connection must have been removed by then, as facilities at DesPlaines avenue took its place.

Most of the old Garfield Park “L” structure, which started just east of Laramie, was torn down in 1959. A portion east of the Chicago River lasted until 1964.

-David Sadowski

Categories: CERA Programs, Chicago Area, Interurbans

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