Central Electric 
Railfans' Association

About Us

The Central Electric Railfans' Association (CERA) was formed in 1938 to encourage study of the history, equipment and operation of urban, suburban and mainline electric railways.

CERA is incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois as a not-for-profit technical and educational society and is governed by a board of seven directors elected by the association's active members. In carrying out the Association's activities they are assisted by other members and friends of the Association.

Our Logo

The CERA logo, designed by CERA member Thomas A. Carpenter, depicts the handle of an electric interurban multiple unit car controller. 

Learn more about our logo, as explained by Roy G. Benedict.

Our Name

CERA, the Central Electric Railfans' Association, wasn't the first use of the letters "CERA," in fact the name is an homage to some earlier history itself:

Those same initials also stood for the Central Electric Railway Association, an organization that was founded in 1906 by some 38 Ohio and Indiana interurban companies initially to establish a common mileage book. Such a book was a coupon book that would permit a passenger to make short trips in various directions at a standard mileage rate on any interurban in the association. The first CERA lasted until 1931--just 7 years before the founding of our organization. When looking for a name for the new railfan organization it was determined to recognize this association that symbolized what the organizers loved so much--the interurban. For more information about the first CERA see George W. Hilton & John Due, The Electric Interurban Railways in American, Stanford University Press, Stanford California, 1960, pp 109-112.

(And in case you're wondering: CERA, properly said, is spelled out, not pronounced phoenetically.) 

Early Beginnings

CERA was organized in 1938 by six railfans: George Krambles, B.L.Stone, Frank E. Butts, A.C. Kalmbach, John F. Humiston, and Earl R. Thompson.

The original two-page statement of purpose was signed by the above individuals and dated July 12, 1938. The temporary address was c/o George Krambles, Chicago Rapid Transit Company, 72 W. Adams, Chicago Ills.

The first fan trip was held May 1, 1938 on the Valparaiso line of the Gary Railways. The first membership meeting was held October 14, 1938 in a South Shore Line coach. The second was held November 11, 1938, in a North Shore Line coach. A dinner in an adjoining dining car preceded the meeting.

Profile: Learn more about George Krambles

Dues were set at $1.00 a year but did not include the cost of bulletins. 


CERA is governed by a board of seven directors, two or three of whom are elected by the active members every year for 3 year terms. Vacancies created during a term may be filled by the remaining directors upon a 2/3 majority. The individual so elected serves for the remainder of the unexpired term.

The annual election is in January of each year, with the newly elected directors beginning their terms in February.

At the first Board meeting in February, the directors elect the officers of the association--President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Officers serve for a one year term, but may be re-elected, subject to certain term limitations (6 years for President and Treasurer).

At the same meeting, the Board elects a Controller and Managers of various activities.

See Also

Copyright 2018 Central Electric Railfans' Association. All Right Reserved 

Central Electric Railfans' Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  P.O. Box 503, Chicago, IL  60690

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