William D. Middleton.

The interurban era online

. (page 10 of 23)
Online LibraryWilliam D. MiddletonThe interurban era → online text (page 10 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the composite wood and steel cars delivered
by Niles were built with double side walls
artel fitted with storm sash. Unfortunately, the
small livery service that was the earliest
forerunner of the Greyhound Lines bus sys-
tem got its start in Hibbing only a year after
the Mesaba Railway opened and no doubt was
a factor in the interurban' s early demise
in 1927. Franklin A. King Collection.

Twin City Rapid Transit's half dozen express
steamers, like almost all of its passenger cars,
were built in the Snelling shops. As can be
seen in this photograph of the Hopkins, cabin
design on the steamers bore a family resem-
blance to that of the company's electric cars.
Stephen D. Maguire Collection.

In addition to purely streetcar services in Minnesota's twin
cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Twin City Rapid
Transit Company operated interurban routes to White
Bear Lake, Stillwater, and Lake Minnetonka, where the cars
connected with the company's express steamer service to
points on the lake. Interurban cars built for the lines in the
company's Snelling shops were identical in appearance to
its city cars, but interurban trucks and motors enabled them
to attain mile-a-minute speeds with ease. In 1906 a Twin
City interurban, shown at Excelsior on the Lake Min-
netonka line, was rebuilt as a double-deck car, rare in North
American electric railway practice. The experiment met
with only indifferent success and the second story was re-
moved about 1909. Bromley Collection, Minneapolis

Public Library.



.N»" ' •>.♦ . >vtv


In an earlier, more prosperous time passen-
gers on the predecessor lines of the Clinton,
Davenport & Muscatine rode in big wooden
cars of traditional pattern, and such attractions
as joint interurban-Mississippi River steamer
excursions, with an observation car trip
through Davenport, Moline, and Rock Island
thrown in, drew a big business. Long before
this car was photographed in 193S climbing
out of the /Mississippi Valley westbound from
Davenport to Muscatine, declining traffic had
forced the CD&A1 to adopt the economies of
lightweight, one-man cars, which were no
more than old Davenport city cars, rebuilt and
souped up for interurban service. Paul

Land of the Steam Road Trolleys

Unique among Midwestern electric railways were
the Iowa interurbans. Some had originally been
steam short lines and others developed as connec-
tions too, complementing the steam railroad net
more than they competed with it. The steam line-
interurban relationship was usually, therefore, a
more cordial one than elsewhere in the Midwest,
and carload freight traffic, freely interchanged with
the trunk lines, was substantial from the very be-
ginnings of the Iowa interurbans, a major factor in
their remarkable longevity. Almost half of them
continued to operate passenger service until well
after World War II, and a majority remained active
as freight-only short lines in 1961.


Bearing green flags
for a following sec-
ond section, this
Cedar Rapids & Iowa
City interurban,
bright in canary yel-
low with brown and
red trim, raced south
to Iowa City in 1950
beside a row of over-
head poles that ex-
tended to the horizon
of the rolling rural
landscape. Wil-
liam D. Middleton.

Roaring downgrade
to the Iowa River
bridge, a Crandic
"Comet," as the one-
time C&LE "Red
Devils" became in-
formally known in
their new corn belt
home, headed north-
ward to Cedar Rap-
ids in 1949. Wil-
liam D. Middleton.



One of the most prosperous of all the Iowa lines
was the Cedar Rapids & Iowa City Railway, known
widely by the "Crandic" abbreviation of its corpo-
rate title. At one time the company's ambitions ex-
tended well beyond the two cities named in its
title. A projected eastern extension to Davenport
never got beyond Lisbon, 17 miles out of Cedar
Rapids, but the interurban's bus subsidiary, Crandic
Stages, ranged from Chicago to Denver with a fleet
of some 60 buses before it was sold to another bus

operator. Crandic passenger service achieved its
greatest distinction after 1939, when the company
acquired a half dozen of the Cincinnati & Lake
Erie's notable lightweight, high-speed cars, later
augmented by a similar Indiana Railroad unit. Dur-
ing World War II the high-speed cars, aided by
older wooden equipment, transported the greatest
passenger traffic in the Cedar Rapids & Iowa City's
history, reaching a peak of more than 573,000 in

Before the arrival of its secondhand lightweight equipment, Crandic passenger

service was maintained by rebuilt wooden cars. Soon after this photograph

■was taken on the Iowa River bridge during a 1941 excursion, car No. 109, a

former Southern New York Railway car built by Cincinnati in 1908, was leased

to the hard-pressed Des Moines & Central Iowa Railroad for wartime service.

Charles A. Brown.

During the '40's the CR&IC acquired a variety
of used freight equipment to accommodate a
rapidly growing traffic. Seventy-ton locomotive
No. 13, southbound from Cedar Rapids in 1950,
was one of two purchased in 1948 from the
Union Electric Railway, which in turn had ob-
tained them from the Oklahoma Railway. After
CR&IC converted to diesel power in 1953, the
two much-traveled locomotives moved on to
the Chicago Aurora & Elgin. William D.

The CR&lC's lone former Indiana Railroad light-
weight. No. 120, took siding at Oakdale for a north-
bound ex-C&LE car in 1950. Such meets were fa-
cilitated by a unique trolley wire switch — developed
by Crandic master mechanic John Munson — which
automatically moved with the track switch, elimi-
nating the need for resetting the trolley pole when
entering or leaving a siding. William D.


Long after similar rural operations bad vanished elsewhere, the Charles City Western
Railway continued to operate two round trips daily from Charles City to nearby Col-
well (population 122), and to Marble Rock (population 470) where a connection was
made with Rock Island steam trains. For the first few years of its existence CCW
transported passengers aboard a racy looking McKeen gas car. When the line was
electrified in 1915, McGuire-Cunimings delivered a neat little combine, No. 50, which
was still regularly rattling over the 21-mile line in 1949 when the car crossed the
Flood Creek trestle on a trip from Marble Rock. William D. Middleton.

Near Denver on the 22-mile
Waverly branch, Waterloo, Ce-
dar Falls & Northern No. 102
made a splash of orange in the
bright green Iowa spring of
1954. William D. Middleton.

Crossing the IC just outside of
Waterloo, la., WCF&N 102
headed for the paralleling Wa-
verly branch in a cloud of dust.
Had this train been bound for
the main line to Cedar Rapids,
it would have slowed for a wye
just ahead. The single-ended
cars were also wfed at each end
of the line, keeping the conduc-
tor busy. William D.


With its diesel-type air
born blaring, the 102
trundled along the It "a-
verly branch. how pow-
er and rough track kept
speeds down. Wil-
liam D. Middleton.

The three Cass brothers who built the Waterloo,
Cedar Falls & Northern Railroad were former steam
railroad men, and they constructed the company's
64-mile southern extension from Waterloo to Cedar
Rapids, opened in 1914, to standards employed by
steam lines. The brothers were determined, too, that
passenger service over the splendid new electric line
would be equivalent in every way to the best prac-
tices of the steam railroads. To this end three mag-
nificent parlor-buffet-observation cars were included
among the steam-car-proportioned steel interurbans
delivered for the new service by McGuire-Cum-
mings. Interiors were finished in oak, with writing

desks, and leather upholstered wicker chairs and
davenports. Floors were covered with green Wilton
carpeting, and plate glass mirrors decorated the in-
terior bulkheads. A uniformed porter served a la
carte meals from a Tom Thumb kitchenette. The
spacious observation platforms were equipped with
brass railings and scalloped awnings, and the com-
pany's "Cedar Valley Road" emblem was displayed
on the rear platform railing in the grand manner of
steam railroad limited trains of the time. Extra-
fare, limited train service proved none too profitable
and the cars were subsequently rebuilt into de luxe

Rebuilt into a solarium-observation coach during the '20's, car 100 (at Cedar Rapids station) teas the
only member of WCF&N's trio of de luxe cars to survive a 1954 roundhouse fire that wiped out the
road's shops in Waterloo. The 100 continued to operate in interurban passenger service until 1956.
The unused semaphore alongside the station dated from the days when trains continued into downtown
Cedar Rapids over city streets. William D. Middleton.

A McGuire-Cummings steeple-cab
locomotive beaded this 1934
WCF&N freight train which was
southbound near Waterloo on
the Elk Run bridge, one of two
substantial concrete arch crossings
of the Cedar River that character-
ized the high-class construction
of the company's southern exten-
sion. The Cedar Valley Road was
among the earliest interurbans to
pursue a volume carload freight
business, and its efforts met with
extraordinary success. In relative-
ly recent years WCF&N freight
revenues have been in the vicinity
of 2 million dollars annually. Of
particular value in the develop-
ment of freight traffic was the
company's industrial belt line
around Waterloo which provided
exclusive service to several in-
dustries. William D. Middleton.

Since its donation to the Iowa Railway Historical Museum in 1956, No. 100 has operated on
occasional excursion trips over the Southern Iowa Railway at Centerville. This was a 1957 fall
foliage outing. William D. Middleton.




A jour-truck locomotive that once wheeled Oregon Electric tonnage through the
Willamette Valley had backed its Fort Dodge Line train into the Rockwell City
branch at Hope to clear a northbound car. William D. Middleton.

Bright yellow car 12 of the FDDM&S was southbound on the approach to the Chi-
cago & North Western overcrossing at Boone. William D. Middleton.

Iowa's largest interurban, the Fort Dodge, Des
Moines & Southern, originated in the '90's as a
steam freight line and ultimately reverted in the
late '50's to a diesel-powered, freight-only short line.
During its half century as an electric interurban the
Fort Dodge Line provided the usual amenities of
high quality interurban travel, including observa-
tion-parlor cars — available to Fort Dodge-Des
Moines travelers for an extra fare of 25 cents —

which were finished in inlaid mahogany and fitted
with Brussels carpeting, art glass Gothic windows,
and bronze chandeliers. The FDDM&S was un-
usual among interurbans in that freight traffic was
always of predominant importance, and even before
World War I, when the interurban passenger trade
enjoyed its most successful years, the company
derived fully 60 per cent of its revenues from
freight, i


The workhorses of Fort Dodge Line passenger
service throughout its history were 10 wooden
Niles interurbans of exceptionally graceful pro-
portions. In the course of its daily round trip
over the Des Moines-Fort Dodge main line dur-
ing the last year of passenger operation — J 95 5
— No. 12 crossed the highest of all interurban

bridges, the steel "High Bridge" over a ravine in
the Des Moines River valley. Erected in 1912
at a cost of $110,000, the 1%-foot-high structure
replaced an earlier wooden trestle (destroyed by
a flood) which had incorporated a million
board feet of lumber in its construction. Wil-
liam D. Middleton.


A line-up of equipment was
photographed just outside Hutch-
inson, Kans., on the opening
day of through service to Wichita
by the Arkansas Valley Interur-
han Railway in 1915. The com-
plete absence of ballast nas a con-
dition that, unfortunately, re-
mained permanent on much of the
AVI. Car No. 6, in the fore-
ground, expired in spectacular
fashion in 1928 when it way
wrecked and burned in a high-
speed head-on collision with a
freight train. William J.
Clouser Collection.


*.\ w •

l » ■ ■. w » *•



Center-door steel cars of substantial appearance
operated on Missouri's largest interurban system,
the 79-mile Kansas City, Clay County & St. Joseph
Railway, which opened a pair of high-class 1200-
volt lines from Kansas City to Excelsior Springs
and St. Joseph in 191). Cathedral glass panels in

the upper window sash provided just the right
touch of elegance. To accommodate special parties
the rear of the cars was designed for conversion to
an observation compartment. Regular seats were
removed and carpeting and mahogany lounge chairs
installed. Stephen D. Maguire Collection.


An obscure Midwestern inter-
urban was the Burlington's 5-
mile electrification of a portion
of the ^-foot-gauge Deadwood
Central Railroad between Lead.
Pluma, and Deadwood in the
Black Hills of South Dakota.
Passenger car 12150, a little
interurban with a big number,
was one of five cars operated
over the line. Here it is at
the three-level crossing with
the North Western and a mine
railroad in Lead about 1906. STE-
PHEN D. Maguire Collection.

Electric cars of the Union Electric Railway wandered over a devious 77-mile
route from Nowata, Okla., to Parsons, Kans. The entire trip, which jew at-
tempted, required about 4 hours. Hard pressed to make ends meet throughout
much of its existence, the company economized by purchasing lightweight, one-
man cars from the American Car Company in 1925. One of them waited for the
passage of a Frisco freight at Cherry vale, Kans., in 1946. Gordon E. Lloyd.


! ■>'■






The McKinley Lines

Illinois Traction System

Headlight aglow, an Illinois Terminal interurban waited at the joint IT-Wa-
bash depot in Champaign during a 1955 snowfall. William D. Middleton.

I ' »J




The McKinley Lines

Illinois Traction System

.DURING the first decade of the new century, as a
great interurban network spread across Mid-Ameri-
ca, the Illinois Traction System assembled by Illinois
congressman and utilities tycoon William B. McKin-
ley clearly emerged as the giant of Midwest traction.

Only seven years after he opened his first electric
line in 1901 — a 6-mile stretch between Danville and
Westville, 111. — McKinley had pushed the main
lines of his traction empire to their full geograph-
ical extent. From Granite City, across the Mississippi
from St. Louis, the McKinley lines extended 167
miles northward to Springfield and Peoria; 125 miles
eastward from Springfield to Decatur, Champaign,
and Danville, on the Indiana border; and from De-
catur to Peoria via Bloomington. In 1910 a great
new Mississippi River bridge was opened and Illi-
nois Traction trains rolled across to a new St. Louis
terminal. That same year a sleeping car service
was inaugurated — the only one of its kind on any
interurban — with specially designed cars that out-
did even Pullman, and a year later a fleet of luxuri-
ous parlor-observation cars appeared on limited
trains operating over the main lines from St. Louis
to Springfield, Peoria, and Danville. Small wonder
that they were calling Illinois Traction the "greatest
interurban system in the world."

Only a few years later McKinley acquired the
Illinois Valley lines of the Chicago, Ottawa &
Peoria, which reached neither Chicago nor Peoria
but had connections at Joliet with the Chicago &
Joliet and plans for extensions from Streator to
Peoria and Mackinaw Junction on the main IT
system. It was considered only a matter of time be-
fore the missing links would be filled in and
through service over an uninterrupted Chicago-St.
Louis electric route would become a reality. As early
as 1906 ITS had purchased three special Com Belt
Limited cars that were to enter a through St. Louis-
Indianapolis service just as soon as the 20-mile gap
was closed between the McKinley Lines at Ridge

Farm, 111., and the Terre Haute, Indianapolis &
Eastern at Paris, 111.

Illinois Traction or its subsidiary companies oper-
ated local streetcar lines in 19 Illinois cities, and
fully half of the electric railway mileage in the state
was under McKinley control. By 1916 McKinley
owned some 40 railway, light and power companies
in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and
Wisconsin, and an estimated 800 miles of electric
railway track was under ITS supervision.

Expansion of the system continued even in later
years, although the Chicago and Indianapolis con-
nections were never realized. In 1928 Illinois Trac-
tion was merged with the prosperous and strategic
Illinois Terminal Company, a steam-operated ter-
minal line in the Alton-East St. Louis area. Two
years later still more electric mileage was added to
what was now known as the Illinois Terminal Rail-
road System when the St. Louis & Alton Railway
was leased.

The greatest single undertaking of the McKinley
Lines, and indeed the greatest engineering work
ever attempted by any interurban, was the mighty
bridge McKinley flung across the Mississippi to
gain access to St. Louis for his traction empire.
Finding the lack of a direct entry to the city a
hindrance to the development of his company, and
barred from the only available bridge to downtown
St. Louis by a monopoly of his steam road competi-
tors, the undaunted McKinley undertook the 4.5-
million-dollar project in 1906. The structure, at the
time the largest and strongest Mississippi crossing
ever built, took four years to build, and its com-
pletion was observed on November 10, 1910, with
appropriate ceremony. Special trains bearing Gover-
nors Hadley of Missouri and Deneen of Illinois met
at the center of the flag-bedecked span; the two men
"clasped hands, each congratulating the other on
this newest bond between Missouri and Illinois";
and Congressman McKinley's niece raised the U. S.


** r*


Running in place of the streamliner Mound City, Illinois Terminal interurban car No. 2H3, trailed
by the parlor-buffet-observation car Cerro Gordo, headed south from Mackinaw junction in 1950 on
a fast Peoria-St. Louis schedule. William D. Middleton.

flag to the peak of the bridge as a band played the
national anthem. That evening, while the Illinois
Traction System entertained 700 prominent guests
at a banquet in St. Louis' Planter's Hotel, thousands
watched a fireworks display on the bridge.

McKinley Bridge, the only exclusive river cross-

ing to St. Louis owned by any railroad, greatly
strengthened the competitive position of Illinois
Traction's far-flung interurban passenger service,
and by gaining direct access to St. Louis industry,
greatly accelerated the growth of an ITS freig
business that was already assuming major prop


A typical Peoria-St. Louis limited train of 1925, made up of a handsome arcb-roofed coach and match-
ing parlor-buffet car with open observation platform, rolled across the jackknife draw span of Illinois
Traction's substantial Illinois River bridge at Peoria. This structure became insignificant only
in comparison with the company's Mississippi span at St. Louis. William J. Clouser Collection.

tions. A new suburban service between St. Louis and
Granite City, inaugurated with the opening of the
bridge, proved to be a lucrative by-product. Only
a few months after the line was opened, ITS was
able to report an average of 10,000 passengers a day,
a figure that tripled on Sundays when thirsty St.
Louis citizens fled their dry-on-Sunday city for the
saloons of nearby Illinois.

Far earlier than .most of its contemporaries, Illi-
nois Traction recognized the value and importance
of a carload freight traffic interchange with steam
railroads. Like most interurbans, ITS usually trav-
ersed the streets of intermediate cities and towns,
where sharp curves or legal limitations frequently
precluded the operation of long freight trains, and
as early as 1906 the system began the construction
of belt lines around its principal cities, a move that
ultimately was to prove the means for survival of

the Midwest's largest interurban. Early attention
was also given to the improvement of the system's
power supply, to satisfy the demands of heavy
freight locomotives.

William B. McKinley
built his Illinois Trac-
tion System into the
Midwest's greatest in-
terurban railway. His
distinguished career
in business and public
life was climaxed
with a term in the
U. S. Senate. Illinois
State Historical


Workhorse combine 283, seen in the gloom of the St. Louis terminal in 7955, bore the untnistakable im-
print of Illinois Traction electric car architecture, despite the blocked-off side window arches of a '30's re-
building. Operation from the left-hand side was an unusual IT feature. The rectangular insert of safety
glass in the motorman's window was a modern-day innovation. William D. Middleton.


The crew of this Illinois Traction interurban viewed the roadbed from
behind a truly generous expanse of plate glass. An early arrival in ITS
ranks (American Car Company, 1904), car 252 predated the distinctive
car design that soon became a virtual company trademark. WILLIAM D.
Middleton Collection.

Splendid in tangerine, a special train, including the

parlor-observation car Lincoln, headed south across the

Sangamon River bridge near Springfield, III., in 19}8.

Paul Stringham.









j ti iii fl I fi ii a I! jpWUBlAiil'p




With controller wide open, a St. Louis-Peoria local skimmed downhill into a little valley not far from
Edwardsville, III., in / 95 5. By this time the bright orange of earlier years had been replaced by
less flamboyant blue and silver colors. William D. Middleton.


Trolley Car Luxury

Finished in Honduras mahogany, heavily carpeted, and richly furnished, Illinois Traction's parlor-buffet-
observation cars provided all of the appropriate comforts and a suitably dignified atmosphere for ex-
tra-fare travelers on the company's crack Peoria-St. Louis limited trains. In later years observation plat-
forms were enclosed, and such up-to-the-minute features as air conditioning and indirect lighting were
provided, along with a less somber decor, George Krambles Collection (Above Left, Center);
Herbert Georg Studio, Springfield (Above Right) ; William D. Middleton Collection (Below).

II li M 1 N A

ii Iffi ft ffl ffl 8 •




_ *

The interurban sleeping cars introduced by Illinois Traction in 1VW featured such advantages as up-
per-berth windows, extra-long berths, and individual safety deposit boxes. The Edwardsville was built
by the St. Louis Car Company in 1913. William J. Clouser Collection.


Extensive through rates and divisions were estab-
lished with connecting steam railroads. Illinois
Traction freight service was even extended to Chi-
cago in 1910 by means of specially equipped cars
for less-than-carload-lot package freight shipments,
which were interchanged with the Chicago & East-
ern Illinois at Glover, 111. A similar service was of-
fered via Peoria, where l.c.l. freight was transferred
to the Rock Island.

Under the skilled direction of Master Mechanic
J. M. Bosenbury, Illinois Traction early evolved a
passenger car design of altogether distinctive ap-
pearance; and the high arched "crown" roof and a
front end with three graceful arched windows be-
came a virtual company trademark. Until three new
streamliners arrived in 1948-1949, IT's newest main-
line passenger car dated to 1918, and most of its
rolling stock was considerably older than that. In
the interim the company's Decatur shops assumed
the substantial task of rebuilding and modernizing
the elderly equipment in order to maintain a com-
petitive position in the passenger trade. Through
the years many of the venerable interurbans received
such improvements as reclining seats, air condition-

lllinois Traction brass and distinguished visitors rode in baronial elegance aboard private car 2 53.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Online LibraryWilliam D. MiddletonThe interurban era → online text (page 10 of 23)