Sunday, April 22, 2007

Back In The Day

In a highly depressing fit of birthday retrospective, we thought we'd take a look here at some of the things we have seen in Passenger Rail and rail in general. Things that are no longer.

The Empire Builder, California Zephyr and North Coast Limited slamming across the first public crossing at grade west of Union Station, Chicago, each with an average of 14 cars and each within a half hour of each other late on a summer afternoon. At that location, each would be pulled by Electromotive E units or by F3 or F7 sets positioned A-B-B-A and matching the GN or NP streamliner colors.

Today, the CTC signals west of that crossing still go from green to red as Amtrak varnish and Metra commuters speed beneath.

The sight and sound of F3 or FT sets in Burlington Route colors revving up to pull freight out of Clyde Yard across the same grade crossing. Sitting on the Illinois Central bridge abutment just above roof level and watching them go by.

CB&Q steam engines still working the yard nearby as all of the above occurs.

Wooden Chicago 'L' cars plying the Loop. In addition the first of the post-war cars made from PCC cars retired from the formerly extensive Chicago Surface Lines network. We never rode the PCCs, however, because the surviving lines near home on Cermak Road always ran older red cars.

Other 'L' sights and sounds like the street level right of way west of 54th Avenue to Oak Park Avenue in Berwyn. The last of the West Side 'L' before it came down in favor of the Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway. Other third rail action in downtown Chicago including Chicago Aurora & Elgin and North Shore Line.

The sight of a single CA&E car running flat out westbound at Butterfield Road near Warrenville - 25 miles out of Chicago and running on third rail power.

CB&Q monitor roofed power cars on the Chicago to Aurora commuter. Before conversion to HEP these cars provided the voltage for the florescent lights in the newer bi-levels. This was also before push-pull operation.

The interior of the Super Chief in its last incarnation before Amtrak.

The D&RGW narrow gauge when it was still D&RGW.

Union Pacific gas turbines pulling heavy freight in Wyoming on Overland Route and sharing it with frequent armour yellow and red striped passenger trains. A DD40 under full load. Half or more of the consist of the UP freights were wooden sided box cars.

Riding Baltimore & Ohio into Washington Union Station and riding Amtrak into Grand Central.

The City of New Orleans in IC colors, and the rest of the stable of fast passenger trains that IC put through Champaign, Illinois, in the last two years before Amtrak. Most often in those years they were running late. Riding on the City of New Orleans, the real one, from Champaign to Chicago.

Grand Central Station, Chicago.

Dearborn Station, Chicago.

The old, original, Northwestern Station, Chicago.

The 'Q' passenger depot in Aurora, IL, a marvelous brick, two-story concoction that seemed too small yet too complex for a small city like Aurora. This was when a stable of commuter trains still yarded overnight just south (railroad west) of the station with locomotives facing the station.

The ticket booths at Union Station, Chicago, and the old concourse that went to the wrecker's ball with its high, window-lit ceilings and hand operated mechanical train designation and destination boards.

Well, that's enough for now. I'm getting more depressed.

© 2007 - C. A. Turek - mistertrains@gmail.com
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