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Originally constructed in 1906 as the Missouri for the projected St. Louis-Indianapolis Corn Belt
Limited service, No. 213 was rebuilt and sumptuously furnished for its official duties by the St. Charles
(Mo.) shop of American Car & Foundry in 1910. George Krambles Collection (Upper) ; William J.
Clouser Collection (Lower).

Shortly after World War II Illinois Terminal made an ill-advised million-dollar bid to stay in the pas-
senger business ivith three streamlined blue and aluminum interurban trains. The City of Decatur, the
Fort Crevecoeur, and the Mound City were delivered by the St. Louis Car Company in 1948-1949. Pro-
vided with every comfort of comparable steam railroad equipment, the trains were costly proof that
interurban passenger traffic was irrevocably lost, atid were withdrawn from service by 1956. Hoof-
nosed streamliner No. 100 headed a two-car St. Louis limited train at the East Peoria station in / 95 5.
William D. Middleton.


ing, and other interior refinements. Illinois Termi-
nal was, incidentally, the first electric line to operate
air-conditioned equipment, beginning in 1935 when
a car was equipped for a new high-speed Peoria-
St. Louis service.

Illinois Terminal continued to develop its pas-
senger service long after most interurbans. In the
early 1930's, while much of the nation's electric
railway mileage was being abandoned, IT completed

After 1911 the mainstay of the high-speed Alton
service was a group of high-wheeled, center-door

cars, some of which were capable of speeds in ex-
cess of 85 miles per hour. Two of the breed
entered St. Louis over the elevated line from McKin-
le\ Bridge in 1948. Motorman W. "Dutch" Horr-
man (far right), who began operating cars over

the line in 1903, was at the controls of an Alton

Limited in 1941. William J. Clouser (Right);

Linn H. Westcott (Far Right).

An early version of the Alton-St. Louis Limited
waited at the end of historic Eads Bridge in 1916.
The Alton line, then operated by the East St. Lou-

is & Suburban, later became part of Illinois Ter-
minal. William T. Diesing, from William J.
Clouser Collection.



I ■

1 J

il jfl


/« //>e /iwa/ year* o/ &} S/. Louis-Granite City suburban service, Il-
linois Terminal provided streamlined PCC trolleys, modified for multi-
ple-unit, double-end operation. A pair of them descended the St. Louis
approach to McKinley Bridge in 1955. The Granite City cars, Illinois
Terminal's last passenger operation, continued to run until 1958.
William D. Middleton.

a new elevated structure that brought its passenger
trains from McKinley Bridge close to the heart of
St. Louis, and a short subway that took them the
rest of the way to a basement terminal in the com-
pany's huge new Central Terminal Building. New
passenger stations were constructed at such im-
portant points as Peoria, Springfield, and Decatur,
and passenger train schedules were accelerated by
routing the cars around traffic-congested streets on
IT's freight belt lines at a number of cities, i

Home-Built for Tonnage

These photographs record the evolution of the

distinctive motive power constructed in Illinois

Terminal's Decatur shops over a 12-year period.

Earliest of the home-built products were 18 of

these 60-ton Class B box-cab locomotives built be-
tween 1910 and 1918. Class B No. 1566 entered

East Peoria, 111., in 1950 with interchange from the
Peoria & Pekin Union. William D. Middleton.

After World War I a steadily increasing
freight traffic made the small two-truck Class
B locomotives inadequate for mainline ton-
nage, and 20 of these four-truck articulated
Class C machines rolled out of the shops be-
tween 1924 and 1950. Weighing 80 tons, they
were powered with eight motors salvaged from
scrapped passenger cars. No. 1597 was pho-
tographed near Allentown, III., in 1941 with a
northbound extra. Paul Stringham.

Largest of the Decatur-built locomotives were five

streamlined Class D units built in 1940-1942. Weighing

108 tons and developing 1800 horsepower with eight

traction motors, they required double trolley poles to

draw sufficient current. Virtually identical carbodies

gave all three classes of IT freight power a strong family

resemblance. The five Class D's, as a matter of fact, utilized

frames and carbodies from scrapped Class C units. With

blowers whining, a Class D rolled into Springfield

from St. Louis in 1950. David A. Strassman.

Lengthened and rebuilt with "picture windows," air conditioning, and foam
rubber seats, the big steel interurbans which were constructed during the
South Shore Line's overhaul by Insull management in the '20's still pro-
vide the last word in passenger comforts. Two of them operated a
South Bend-Chicago schedule near Gary in 195 3. Linn H. Westcott.





1 ,


1 m i

S i i


Insull's Interurbans

The Great Chicago Systems

AMONG the men who achieved prominence dur-
ing the interurban era, one of the greatest traction
tycoons of them all was Chicago's Samuel Instill,
whose Midwestern power, gas, and traction empire
was truly one of the wonders of the '20's. The phe-
nomenal business career of the London-born magnate
began in 1881 when, at the age of 21, he became
private secretary to Thomas Edison. Insull stayed
with Edison long enough to assist in the organiza-
tion of the General Electric Company, then moved
west to begin a conquest of Chicago's public
utilities. By 1907 the city's entire electric power
business was under the control of Insull's Com-
monwealth Edison Company, and only three years
later an Insull "superpower" system, destined to em-
brace the entire state of Illinois and much of the
Midwest as well, began branching out from Chicago.
Within 20 years Insull's Middle West Utilities em-
pire had assets in excess of 2 billion dollars, pro-
duced a tenth of the nation's electricity, and served
over 1,800,000 customers in some 3500 communities
in 39 states.

If only a minor part of his incredibly complicated
holdings, Insull's traction network was nonethe-
less impressive. Convinced that electric transporta-
tion would ultimately supplant all other mass trans-
portation media, Insull acquired control of Chi-
cago's surface and elevated railways, and provided
ample cash to place them in top condition. His in-
terurban interests, usually interlocked with asso-
ciated power companies, included a network that
covered much of Indiana, and eventually every line
of consequence that radiated from Chicago.

Pre-eminent among the Insull traction holdings
were the three superb interurbans which extended
north, west, and southeast from Chicago. Each al-
ready enjoyed a measure of distinction when Insull
acquired control in the decade following 1916, but
Insull provided the management and hard cash to
transform these railways into some of the most re-

markable properties of the entire interurban era.

The oldest of the three, Chicago North Shore &
Milwaukee, began operation in typically modest
interurban fashion in 1894 as the Bluff City Electric
Street Railway at Waukegan, 111. Reorganized a few
years later as the Chicago & Milwaukee Electric Rail-
way, the line was reorganized twice again before re-
ceivers finally managed to complete in 1909 a main
line which extended from Evanston to Milwaukee.
Hindered by the lack of an entrance to the heart
of Chicago, the line was only a modest success until
a 1916 reorganization under Insull control created
the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad,
and the new management invested 5.5 million dol-
lars in an extensive development program. By 1919
North Shore trains were running to the Chicago
Loop over elevated tracks, and a few years later pas-
sengers were being transported between Chicago and
Milwaukee aboard such luxurious limited trains as
the Eastern Limited, the Badger, and the Interstate,
which numbered parlor-observation cars and diners
among their features and offered close Chicago con-
nections with the 20tb Century Limited and the
Broadway Limited. Powerful new steel cars sped
between the two cities over newly rebuilt roadbeds
in as little as 2 hours 10 minutes, and North Shore
billboards challenged, "Did you ever travel 80
miles an hour?" Between 1916 and 1922 the number
of daily trains increased from 192 to 295, and the
North Shore enjoyed a 350 per cent increase in gross
operating revenues.

Chicago's interurban to the western suburbs was
several cuts above ordinary interurbans right from
its opening day in 1902. Conceived as a "super in-
terurban," the Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Railroad
employed the third-rail system ihen highly regarded
for heavy-duty, high-speed lines and was engineered
to the extremely high standards required for a con-
templated 70-mile-per-hour continuous maximum
speed. A ruling grade of 1 per cent and a maximum


Near Four Mile Road, north of Racine, Wis., on an
August morning in 1955 a four-car North Shore Line
Milwaukee Limited thundered across the Root River
which meanders on through lush farmlands to Racine
and Lake Michigan. William D. Middleton.

I tilities magnate Samuel Instill built his three big Chicago elec-
tric lines into the wonders of the interurban era. CHICAGO

Historical Society.



A splendid double-
track roadbed between
Chicago and Milwau-
kee enabled the North
Shore to gain interna-
tional recognition for
its speed achievements
and permanent posses-
sion of the Electric
Traction interurban
speed trophy in 1913.
Freshly ballasted in
crushed stone and
straight as a rifle bore,
this stretch of track
near Racine was typi-
cal. A /Milwaukee Lim-
ited traveled it in 1956
at a speed considerably
in excess of a mile a
minute. William D.



Southbound on its last trip of the day, an Electroliner paused briefly at North Chicago on its flight be-
tween Milwaukee and Chicago. William D. Middleton.

curvature of 3 degrees were maintained, and the line
employed 80-pound rail, rock ballast, and sturdy
bridges of concrete and steel construction. Unlike
other Chicago interurbans, the AE&C enjoyed the
advantages of a direct entrance to the Loop early in
its history, inaugurating through service over the
tracks of the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Com-
pany in 1905. The superior transportation repre-
sented by the AE&C encouraged rapid development
of the western suburbs, and within a very few years
after the line's opening the number of intermediate
stations, originally planned at 3-mile intervals, had
increased to 27 in the 25 miles between Chicago and

Reorganized as the Chicago Aurora & Elgin in
1922 by Dr. Thomas Conway Jr., later to earn fur-
ther distinction as the organizer of the Cincinnati &
Lake Erie system and the rebuilder of the Philadel-
phia & Western, the line received the benefit of bet-

ter than a million dollars in improvements, includ-
ing stone reballasting between Chicago and Whea-
ton, power system and shop improvements, and 20
heavy Pullman-built steel passenger cars.

Employing a 6600-volt, single-phase power system,
the Chicago, Lake Shore & South Bend Railway,
opened in 1908, achieved early prominence as one
of the most important alternating current interur-
bans. Constructed to high standards, and equipped
with unusually large and handsome Niles wooden
interurbans, the Lake Shore line did a substantial
business between the communities at the foot of
Lake Michigan and South Bend. The necessity for
a transfer to the Illinois Central at Kensington, how-
ever, had a discouraging effect on the interurban's
business into Chicago, until an agreement was ne-
gotiated with the steam road in 1913 whereby
through trailer cars from seven Gary-Chicago lim-
iteds daily were attached to IC steam locomotives,





The North Shore by Night

In this series of nighttime camera studies, the North Shore is
depicted as it went about "business as usual" after a January
195H blizzard. This snowfall, of the prodigious proportions
common to the shores of the Great Lakes, had raged across
Chicago's North Shore suburbs, thoroughly disrupting road
traffic and other activities similarly less reliable than the elec-
tric cars. The white stuff was still drifting down as a Skokie
Valley local stopped at the Liberty ville (III.) station.
William D. Middleton.

Surrounded by darkened interurbans awaiting the morning rush
back to the city, a late evening local was about to depart from
Mundelein for Chicago. William D. Middleton.

While compressors hammered air into the train line, a trio of

GE steeple-cab locomotives waited at Pettibone Yard in North

Chicago with 29 cars for the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern at Rondout

and the Soo at Mundelein. William D. Middleton.



Dressed in skirting and red and silver colors, a pair of heavy Pullman cars of the Insull era raced
into Milwaukee in 1957. William D. Middleton.

Instills management of the CNS&M produced the 10-million-dollar Skokie Valley Route that cut
nearly 20 minutes from Chicago-Milwaukee schedules. The Dempster Street interlocking at Skokie
(Siles Center) protected the stub terminal of Chicago Rapid Transit's Howard Street shuttle trains,
which operated north to this point from 1925 to 1948. The three-car Milwaukee Express, photo-
graphed around 1947, was decked out in the green, gray, and red livery which replaced traction
orange and maroon with the introduction of the Electroliners. John Stern.

fust after leaving congested Milwaukee streets behind, a North Shore Limited picked up speed across
the high fill on Milwaukee's south side. William D. Middleton.


which transported them to Illinois Central's Ran-
dolph Street suburban station. Passenger revenues
between Chicago and points on the electric line
showed an encouraging 25 per cent increase soon
after the new arrangement went into effect.

Approaching the mid-'20's the big Chicago lines
found themselves facing a somewhat disturbing fu-
ture. The Chicago, Lake Shore & South Bend was
in the worst predicament. Hard hit by declining
traffic, the once handsome property had fallen into a

sorry state of disrepair, and was to find itself in
receivership by 1925. The North Shore Line, bene-
fited by its extensive improvement program, was
doing exceedingly well but still suffered an ener-
vating slow drag through the streets of Chicago's
northern suburbs which threatened the continued
prosperity of its important traffic between Chicago
and Milwaukee. Only the Chicago Aurora & Elgin
Railroad was without major plant improvement


Aloving at a rapid clip, an Elec-
troliner hammered across Chi-
cago & North Western double
track at Oak Creek tower, south
of Milwaukee, early in 1938.
William D. Middleton.

Since construction of the huge Great
Lakes Naval Training Center during
World War I, countless thousands of
Midwestern youths have arrived at
the gates of "hoot camp" aboard the
electric cars of the North Shore Line.
Returning to the "Lakes" from a week-
end liberty, this sleepy whitehat and
his wife waited for departure of a late
evening train from the Milwaukee
depot. Joseph C. O'Hearn.


At this point Sam Insull went to work.

Early in 1924 Insull pushed ahead with plans for
further massive improvements to the North Shore
Line. During the next several years no fewer than
65 new steel interurbans were placed in service, and
10 million dollars was expended for the new Skokie
Valley high-speed line, which bypassed the con-
gested lake shore suburbs — cutting nearly 20 min-
utes from Chicago-Milwaukee schedules — and
opened a whole new area to suburban development.
Construction of the line set off what was described
as a "spectacular real estate boom" and land values
increased to as much as 10 times their previous val-
ues. Following the new line's completion in June
1926, the North Shore enjoyed the most prosperous
year in its history.

The tremendous carrying capacity of the new
Skokie Valley line was shown off in spectacular
fashion a few weeks after its completion, when a
great Catholic Eucharistic Congress was held at
Mundelein, 111. On the final day of the Congress
on June 24, 1926, the North Shore moved 170,000

The North Shore entered the streamliner era in
1941 with a pair of articulated trains that repre-
sented the finest inter urban equipment ever con-
structed in the United States. Between them the
Electroliners have clocked more than 6 million
train-miles on five daily Chicago-Milwaukee round
trips offering air-conditioned de luxe coach ac-
commodations for 120 passengers, plus tavern-
lounge facilities. A panned photograph captured
the seemingly effortless pace of an Electroliner as
it glided southward at a speed approaching its 85-
mile-per-hour capability. William D. Middleton.


After 1926 interurbans of Sam Insult's South Shore Line operated straight through
to the Chicago Loop from Kensington over the rails of the Illinois Central's
superbly engineered suburban electrification. In /956 a four-car Chicago Ex-
press, operating over the outer "special" track reserved for nonstop trains, was
about to overtake an IC local on six-track right of way not far from the Loop.

William D. Middleton.

A Pullman-built North Shore coach, trimmed in the Silverliner colors of recent
years, got a new set of wheels in the company shops at Highwood, III., in 1955,
William D. Middleton.



r" :t

passengers from Chicago's Loop to Mundelein and
back, and another 60,000 were transported between
the Chicago & North Western station at Lake Bluff
and Mundelein. Six-car trains of borrowed Chicago
Rapid Transit equipment left the Loop every 2
minutes beginning at daybreak, and 13 eight-car
trains shuttled steadily between Lake Bluff and
Mundelein to carry the record crowd.

Working through his Midland Utilities Com-
pany, Insull next acquired the Chicago, Lake
Shore & South Bend at a foreclosure sale in 1925, re-
organized it as the Chicago South Shore & South
Bend, and during the next three years gave it a
6.5-million-dollar transfusion of Insull capital for
rehabilitation and new equipment. At the peak of
its overhaul program the South Shore had 900 men
at work laying rail, reballasting, and building new

structures and line relocations. The Illinois Central
had just completed the 1500-volt D.C. electrification
of its suburban system, so the South Shore scrapped
its A.C. equipment, rebuilt its electrical system to
conform with the IC's, and negotiated a new track-
age rights agreement that permitted South Shore
electrics to operate through to Randolph Street sta-
tion, cutting some 12 minutes from previous running
times behind IC steam power. Pullman and other
builders turned out 49 new steel cars for the system,
among them 15 handsome parlor-observation and
dining cars. When South Shore began operation of
limited name trains with the new de luxe equipment,
the trade periodical Electric Railway Journal termed
it a "smashing blow to competition." The newly
overhauled South Shore did well indeed, for in only
one year — between 1926 and 1927 — gross passen-


Eastbound with afternoon commuters in 1935, a Michigan City train pounded past Burnham Yard near
Hammond, Ind., where one of the South Shore's three 273-ton "Little Joe'' locomotives made up an
eastbound freight. William D. Middleton.

Late on a rainy evening a train of heavy
Pullman interurbans rolled through the
streets of East Chicago, Ind. By the
mid-'Ws South Shore was running its
trains around the city on a new bypass
route built to trunk line standards.
H. A. List.

In pre-Insull days the South Shore Line operated
its passenger service with unusually large and
heavy wooden interurbans constructed by the Niles
Car & Manufacturing Company. Three of them
headed an eastbound special, which included a
Chicago & Alton diner, in a scene at the Michigan
City (Ind.) shops. Chicago South Shore & South

Bend Railroad.


Before and After Insull

Geared for pulling power, a Niles combine of Chicago, Lake Shore & South Bend days, photographed in

1926 at Lake Park siding, was able to make good time with a six-car special of borrowed Illinois

Central coaches of the familiar arch-roofed Harriman lines pattern. Van-Zillmer Collection.

A quarter of a century later a 24-wheeled "Little Joe," developing better than 5000 horsepower, made

even easier work of a 10-car Illinois Central picnic special made up of the selfsame Harriman coaches.

The train is seen eastbound at the Pennsylvania overpass east of Gary. Van-Zillmer Collection.

Carefully arranged for a 1927 publicity photograph, a Chicago Aurora & Elgin train, made up of four handsome




1 •• -^<*

Pullman steel interurbans and a buffet-parlor car, presented a fine sight. Charles A. Brown Collection.


ger revenues increased no less than 100 per cent.

Fresh from its million dollar refurbishing under
the Conway management when it was added to the
Insull holdings in 1926, the Chicago Aurora & El-
gin had less need for the sort of capital showered on
the North Shore and South Shore lines, but none-
theless received another million and a half for sta-
tion and right-of-way improvements, and 15 heavy
steel interurban cars.

The splendidly engineered and equipped Insull
lines became models for a new kind of heavy-duty,
high-speed interurban that many hoped would bring
a new era of traction prosperity. High-speed op-
eration had become the object of growing interest
on the part of electric railway managers, and the un-
paralleled accomplishments of the Chicago lines

End of track for CA&E's Elgin line teas this tranquil
spot on the Fox River, where car 415 waited to de-
part as a Chicago Express. Until 1 9 50 interurban
connections were available at Elgin for Rockford,
Freeport, and southern Wisconsin points.
William D. Middleton.

During weekday rush hours the well-kept Chicago
Aurora & Elgin roadway between Wheaton and
Chicago handled a parade of multiple-unit com-
muter trains on streetcar headway. On a quiet Sun-
day morning, hoivever, this car, westbound at Glen
Oak station, was more than adequate equipment for
a Wheaton local. Roarin Elgin traffic dwindled
after expressway construction forced discontinuance
of "one-seat" service to Chicago's Loop in 19*>4, and
abandonment followed three years later.
William D. Middleton.

A shirt-sleeved conductor waved a highball from the
vestibule and the motorman reached for his con-
troller as a CA&E Chicago local prepared to depart
from Wheaton station in J 9'*''. Heading the train was
one of the line's 10 post-World War 11 St. Louis-built
interurbans, constructed with "fish-belly" sides to
permit extra seating room despite Chicago El plat-
form restrictions. William D. Middleton.

brought them widespread recognition. In 1924 Elec-
tric Traction magazine began the award of an an-
nual Speed Trophy to America's fastest interurban
railways. Texas' Galveston-Houston Electric Rail-
way received top honors for the first two years, but
thereafter, as the benefits of the Insull improve-
ments were realized, the three Chicago lines domi-
nated the competition. After 1929 the Insull lines
regularly held the first three places in the competi-
tion, and in 1933, after winning the first position for
three consecutive years, the North Shore gained
permanent possession of the trophy.

A few years later the North Shore earned world
distinction as the subject of a special article in Great
Britain's The Railway Gazette. Stated the Gazette
in 1935, after citing examples of the North Shore's
frequent start-to-stop timings requiring average
speeds in the vicinity of 70 miles per hour, "Some of

As an express from Chicago cleared the single track

Aurora Hue, a pair of CA&E freight motors headed

out of the Burlington interchange with tonnage

for Wheaton. The much-traveled locomotives had

previously operated under the colors of no less than

three interurbans, in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Iowa.

William D. Middleton.



the point-to-point bookings are probably without
rival, and the timings of the hourly trains between
leaving the Milwaukee suburban area and entering

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Online LibraryWilliam D. MiddletonThe interurban era → online text (page 11 of 23)