Editor’s Note- Today’s guest columnist is Jeffrey L. Wien, longtime MCERA and an active railfan since the mid-1950s. Jeff has been a CERA Director since 1988 and is also one of the authors of our Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era 1936-1958, to be published in August as Bulletin 146. Jeff has presented many fine CERA programs throughout the years, and is also well-known for the Wien-Criss Archive. 2014 photos are by Bradley Criss.
The Insull-era North Shore Line station at Dempster in Skokie is still with us, although it has been moved about 100 feet to the east and is now a Starbucks. But at least you can still board a train there, although it’s now the CTA’s Yellow Line instead of the North Shore Line.
Pictured are a series of photographs of the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee ticket cabinet from the Dempster Street, Skokie Station which I purchased in mid-March 2014. To me, this ticket cabinet has a special meaning because it is virtually the same type I used as a North Shore Line ticket seller from June 12 to mid-September 1961. During that period of time, I was on summer break in college, and took a job with the North Shore Line working as ticket seller relief at Adams and Wabash, North Chicago Junction, and Edison Court, Waukegan.
The majority of my time with the North Shore Line was spent at the Adams and Wabash Station, where I either worked the telephone, answering questions regarding North Shore Line services, or I worked the ticket counter. As a railfan, this job was really a lot of fun. I knew the North Shore Line services like the back of my hand, so I was able to answer almost any kind of questions presented to me simply because of my knowledge about the railroad and its history.
I recall being impressed with the Navy uniforms worn by the guys going to Great Lakes from Adams and Wabash and ultimately joined the Naval Reserve in August 1961. As an aside, I took the North Shore Line to Great Lakes in December 1961 when I went to boot camp there. During the Summer of 1961, the jukebox at Adams and Wabash was playing virtually non-stop and the top song of the day was “Runaway“ by Del Shannon. I learned the words by heart!
Getting back to the ticket cabinet from Skokie, the various tickets bring back a lot of memories of the days when I sold tickets to the various destinations. I have been told that not many of these have survived. I know of one in Milwaukee, and have been told that similar cabinets from Waukegan and North Chicago have been preserved by a former North Shore Line employee. I have also been told that others were given to museums in Kenosha and several communities along the line, although I am not aware of their existence today. It is reported that the Illinois Railway Museum also has a North Shore ticket cabinet.
The Skokie ticket cabinet is unique, because of course the station building has been preserved and one can still go by rail from the Chicago Loop, Belmont, Wilson and Howard to Skokie! An audit of the tickets has disclosed that there are no Skokie-Kenosha roundtrip tickets included, although similar tickets are in the cabinet to Great Lakes, Waukegan, Racine and Milwaukee. There are also no one-way or round-trip tickets between Skokie and Libertyville or Mundelein.
For the most part, the tickets in the ticket cabinet are about as complete as one might hope some 51 years after the line closed. Of special interest is the brass padlock inscribed with the letters C.N.S. & M.R.R. That in itself is a collectors’ item.
To me, this bit of North Shore memorabilia is indeed a rare find!