Central Electric 
Railfans' Association

  • Friday, March 13, 2015 1:09 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    BY EDITOR on MARCH 13, 2015 • 0 )

    Eric Bronsky shared these photos taken at 56th Street and 1st Avenue in Kenosha during a Skokie Park District Seniors outing on March 11. Having helped to plan the trip to the Kenosha Public Museum and the nearby Jelly Belly warehouse, Eric ensured that a streetcar ride would be one of the day’s highlights.

    The “Pittsburgh” PCC car (ex-TTC 4609, built by Canada Car & Foundry in 1951) was operating that day. The ride definitely scored points with the group. For some, this was perhaps their first streetcar ride in decades. Overheard: “I remember riding this streetcar in Chicago!”

    Coincidentally, only the day before, Jelly Belly publicly announced plans to close their Wisconsin facility and relocate to Tennessee.

    PS- CERA is a strong supporter of the Kenosha streetcar and we have featured it in several previous posts. You can find these here.


    05 Kenosha Trolley


    04 Kenosha Trolley

    02 Kenosha Trolley

    08b Kenosha Trolley


  • Monday, March 09, 2015 1:25 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    Originally posted on The Trolley Dodger:

    This is the second installment in our ongoing series featuring color pictures of Chicago streetcars. (You can read our earlier post here.)

    As always, half the fun is trying to guess some of the locations where we do not have the information. I am always surprised at how knowledgeable and clever some of our readers are.


    CTA 7216 southbound on route 22. 

    CTA 7216 southbound on route 22.

    If you can help us out with some of the missing facts, please let us know. Each picture has an image number (for example, the first picture is #585) so please refer to the image numbers when discussing individual photographs. As always, you can bring up a larger version of each picture in your browser by clicking on it.

    Unfortunately, we don’t know the names of the shutterbugs who took these pictures. When we do know who pushed the button, rest assured we will always give proper…



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  • Sunday, March 01, 2015 1:48 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)
    Originally posted on The Trolley Dodger:

    It’s August 28, 1936 on north Ashland Avenue, and time for a parade. One week earlier, streetcar service had been extended north of Cortland in one of the final extensions under CSL. Prior to this time, this portion of the route had run on Southport, two blocks to the east. North Chicago Street Railroad “Bombay roof” horsecar 8 is ahead of the experimental 1934 Brill pre-PCC car 7001. Ironically, the older car survives at the Illinois Railway Museum, while 7001 was scrapped in 1959. Check out the barber stripes on the 7001’s trolley pole.

    It's August 28, 1936 on north Ashland Avenue, and time for a parade. One week earlier, streetcar service had been extended north of Cortland in one of the final extensions under CSL. Prior to this time, this portion of the route had run on Southport, two blocks to the east. North Chicago Street Railroad "Bombay roof" horsecar 8 is ahead of the experimental 1934 Brill pre-PCC car 7001. Ironically, the older car survives at the Illinois Railway Museum, while 7001 was scrapped in 1959. Check out the barber stripes on the 7001's trolley pole.

    Our earlier feature Chicago Streetcars in Black-and-White has been very popular, so here is another heaping helping of classic photos by some of the greatest railfan photographers of all time. As always, clicking on each picture will bring up a larger version in your browser.

    If you can share some interesting tidbits of information about these…

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  • Sunday, March 01, 2015 1:38 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    In 2001 Piet Schreuders wrote to me from his home in Amsterdam postulating (correctly) about the tunnel appearing at the conclusion of Laurel and Hardy’s 1930 comedy short Another Fine Mess. Apart from being an internationally acclaimed graphic designer, and creator of Furore Magazine, Piet’s amazing list of accomplishments include writing The Beatles’ London, a guide to The Beatles’ shooting and filming locations; co-founding The Beau Hunks music ensemble, which recreates the LeRoy Shield musical scores played during the Hal Roach Studio comedies; and creating a virtual reality computer model of downtown Culver City as it appeared when Laurel and Hardy filmed there so frequently in the 1930s. Piet has also…

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    Stan and Ollie ride south down Sunset Blvd. from Grand Click to enlarge each image.  1930 vs. 1958. Stan and Ollie (well, their stunt doubles) ride south down Sunset Blvd. from Grand at the conclusion of Another Fine MessPalmer Conner Collection.


  • Thursday, February 26, 2015 3:20 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    Our Next Program:

    Pittsburgh Area Traction

    Annual Meeting

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    1900 hrs / 7:00pm
    University Center
    525 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605

    We will visit and view traction operations in the Pittsburgh area.  Electric traction in Pennsylvania proved to be an enduring institution, with many lines surviving into the 1950s.  Even today, we can still ride electric cars in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas.

    Pittsburgh Railways PCC 1467, built in 1941 by St. Louis Car Company, is preserved at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, PA.

    Pittsburgh Railways PCC 1467, built in 1941 by St. Louis Car Company, is preserved at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, PA.

    Two DVDs will be shows, with footage transferred from movies.Pittsburgh Railways 16 mm color footage from 1951 to 1963, features interurbans, suburban, and city lines back in a time when it seemed that streetcars could be found everywhere in Pittsburgh.  A combination of PCC cars and older equipment will make this trip back into the past an enjoyable experience.

    West Penn Railways features Greensburg to Uniontown main line and the branch to Latrobe.  Tight curves, spectacular bridges, and steep grades were all part of the West Penn experience that made is so memorable.

    Our Annual Meeting will take place between showing of the two DVDs.  Three candidates will be elected to the CERA Board of Directors, and administrative reports will be presented.

    PS- CERA Bulletin 145, published in 2012, covers the Pittsburgh Railways story in great detail:

    Transit in the Triangle Volume 1
    A Century Look at Pittsburgh Public Transit
    by Blaine S. Hays and James A. Toman

    You can purchase a copy here.

    Pittsburgh Railways had a very attractive logo, as seen on PCC 1711 at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.

    Pittsburgh Railways had a very attractive logo, as seen on PCC 1711 at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.

    West Penn Railways car 739, now preserved at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.

    West Penn Railways car 739, now preserved at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.


  • Friday, January 23, 2015 3:28 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    The Lake Room, University Center 

    525 S. State St, Chicago, IL

    July 25, 2015, marks the 60th anniversary of the North Shore Line’s “Shore Line Route” abandonment. January 21, 2015 marks the 52nd anniversary of the total abandonment of the railroad.

    Tonight we will view various aspects of the beloved North Shore Line through an encore presentation of the 50th Anniversary North Shore Line Program which was originally presented at CERA on January 25, 2013. North Shore enthusiasts never tire of seeing visual representations of their beloved interurban when all was still operational and every day was “business as usual” even in the shadow of protracted abandonment proceedings. If you missed this program the first time around, here is your chance to see this famous and colorful interurban brought back to life in an engrossing collection of digitized and restored black-and-white and color film.

    Join us for an evening on the North Shore Line. Crying towels are in limited supply and available upon request.

    The Annual Membership Meeting has been postponed until February. The Audit Committee requires additional time to complete its review of CERA’s finances and issue an up-to-date report on the organization’s financial state to its members.

    Also, there are three Board of Directors positions up for election, but to date we only have the names of two candidates to place on the ballot. If you would like to give of your time to CERA and are interested in serving on the Board, please contact Nominations Committee Chairman Raymond DeGroote by email at rdg6018ray@yahoo.com.

     714 & 720 Milwaukee 1-20-63_edited_a

    Note: Current estimates are that B-146 will be released sometime in February 2015—a very welcome event to bring in the New Year


  • Friday, December 26, 2014 3:31 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)
    Myles’ burial took place on Friday in St. Paul, Minnesota.  The memorial service will be held on Tuesday, December 30, at 11:30 AM at North Shore Congregation Israel, 1185 Sheridan Road, Glencoe, IL.  Memorials may be made to the charity of your choice.Directions:  Take the Edens Expressway (I-94 / US Route 41) to Lake Cook Road.  Turn east (heading towards Lake Michigan).  Continue approximately 1.6 mi.  Lake Cook merges into Sheridan Road.  The entrance to the parking lot is on the left approximately 700 ft. after the road turns southward.For additional information, please contact Goldman Funeral Group, (847) 478-1600.—Eric Bronsky


  • Thursday, December 25, 2014 3:34 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    During his childhood, Myles Jarrow traveled to many places with his family using streetcars, interurbans, and intercity trains. His earliest memories of riding streetcars in Chicago dated back to the mid-1920s. Among other local attractions, he enjoyed visiting the Balaban & Katz movie palaces, the various museums, and the Municipal Pier (now called Navy Pier). But observing and riding the colorful streetcars mesmerized him more than anything else.

    Outside of Chicago, Myles was fortunate to experience firsthand many of the streetcar and interurban lines that still operated during the early years of the Depression. Decades later, he would lament not having gotten into photography. But Myles’ photographic memory did a fine job of preserving intricate details from those trips. He prudently saved timetables, brochures, and other memorabilia from his travels.

    Apart from being involved in his family’s company which manufactured refrigerator door gaskets, Myles dabbled briefly in transportation. He and his friend Frank Butts operated a small bus company in Lincoln, Illinois after World War II.

    Myles joined the fledgling Central Electric Railfans’ Association back in 1938. Remarkably, his involvement with CERA would span three-quarters of a century! As Member #23, he was the last surviving member to attend the early meetings. Myles was a gifted speaker who would pair his lucid memories with images from various photographers. He gave several excellent, memorable programs at CERA through the years.

    Myles’ passion for travel continued well into the 21st Century with trips to Europe as well as visits to USA cities with streetcars and light rail. Reduced mobility in later years did not deter him from attending CERA meetings, visiting IRM, or enjoying social visits with friends. His energy and youthful spirit transcended his 92 years. On a more personal level, Myles was a longtime friend. We will miss his always-upbeat attitude, companionship, enthusiasm for the hobby, and great sense of humor. A walking ‘time capsule’ of Chicago in the ’30s and later, Myles was an interviewee for the book Downtown Chicago in Transition, co-authored by Eric Bronsky and Neal Samors.

    Myles passed away on Sunday, December 21. He bequeathed his extensive collection of books and paper items to the Illinois Railway Museum. A memorial service is being planned for Tuesday, December 30 at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois. Details are forthcoming.

    — Eric Bronsky

    Myles at IRM - D Joseph Photo


  • Thursday, December 04, 2014 3:38 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)
    The CERA Members Blog will be back up and running in 2015. In the meantime the organization’s main target will be to have the completed B-146 off to the printer this month so it will be ready for distribution to members and purchasers in mid January 2015. We wish you all the best for a happy holiday season and look forward to seeing you again in the New Year.


  • Monday, December 01, 2014 3:39 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    There was a time, not so long ago really, in February 2013 when we started writing this blog, and we had practically no readers. It seemed that, no matter how good the posts were (and some of the early posts were very good), nobody was paying very much attention.

    We would tell people about the blog, and their usual reaction was, “What is a blog?”

    I am glad to report the situation has changed. We set a new record yesterday with 2,091 page views in a single day, and 13,976 for the month of November. The previous record for page views in a day was 944 and that was just a couple weeks back.

    The 1989 movie Field of Dreams espoused the philosophy, “build it, and they will come.” In the film, Kevin Costner constructs a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield, and pretty soon the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson comes out of the shadows.

    While we can’t claim Shoeless Joe as one of our followers, something similar may be at work here. Over time, as our posts accumulate, there is more and more available here for people to read. Readership has been going up lately, even though there are fewer posts this year than last.

    But we’ll take new readers wherever we can get them. If you have just recently discovered this blog, we’ll do our best to keep up the good work, and keep you both informed and entertained while covering transportation history and current goings-on. IMHO, our best posts use pictures to help tell a story.

    And if, as a result, you discover the group that’s behind it all, Central Electric Railfans’ Association, that’s even better.

    I don’t expect to be seeing the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson anytime soon, but you never know. Stranger things have happened.

    Thanks.

    -Ye Olde Editor

    PS- Just so this post is not entirely devoid of transit-related information, we’ll post a list of the 10 foundung members of the Illinois Railway Museum, courtesy of Carl Lantz:


    Howard R. Blackburn
    Robert W. Gibson
    Charles V. Hess
    Meredith (Butch) Hunter
    Malcolm D. McCarter
    J. W. McDonough
    Howard A. Odinius
    Eugene Van Dusen
    David J. Williams III
    Harry Zillmer

    As Mr. Lantz notes, each contributed $100 to bring Indiana Railroad car 65 to Illinois. Malcolm McCarter is the lone surviving founder, and he still sells railroad photos, as he has been doing since 1942.

    You can read more about IR car 65 in A Tale of Two High Speeds, one of our posts from last year.


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