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)
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)