Thursday, October 8, 2009

Trolleyville/Lake Shore Electric Collection

Some of the rarest and near/dear to my heart traction equipment is finally making it's way back home to Illinois. After an aborted attempt at moving the old Trolleyville museum from Olmstead Falls, Ohio to a new site (and reorganized as the Lake Shore Electric Rwy) on the Cleveland lakefront, the largest number of ex CA&E and Fox River Line cars were made available for sale.The winning bids were announced just a week ago on Oct 2nd, and the results are stunning.

The Illinois Rwy Museum will now be home to CA&E wood cars 36 and 319. Car 36 is from the first order of AE&C cars, and is a sister to Car 20 at the Fox River Trolley Museum. It is believed that both of these cars operated on both the first day of operations in 1902 and on the last day in 1957. Car 20 by virtue of it's number is "older" than the 36, (much like twins, one had to come first), and I believe these cars are the oldest operating interurbans in the US.

IRM will also be home to CA&E Pullman 409, the only remaining car of the first order of steel cars for the CA&E. St Louis "curved side/fishbelly" cars #451 & 460, from the last order of steel cars for the CA&E (and the last "standard" interurbans built), will also be coming to IRM.

This will give IRM a car from each of the CA&E's original steel car orders, a Pullman, a Cincinnati (#431 already at IRM), and two of the St Louis cars.

IRM will also be getting a single truck open trolley, originally from Vera Cruz, Mexico. Similar cars ran on many of the Fox Valley streetcar and interurban lines in the early 1900's.

Not to be outdone, the Fox River Trolley Museum will also become the new home for one of the CA&E St Louis cars, #458. Even more significant will be the addition of former Shaker Hts Rapid Transit car #304, one of the original Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric cars, which will be returning to home rails for the first time in 70+ years. It is important to note that it's quite a rare achievement for a museum to operate "home rail" equipment.
Sometime in the not-to-distant future, this scene below will be recreated in real life as a Fox River car again travels south down the mainline alongside the Fox River, passing under the
former Illinois Central mainline at Coleman.

Life will imitate art !

The other remaining Fox River car, #303, will remain in Ohio at the Northern Ohio Rwy Museum, preserved as a Shaker Hts car. The Connecticut Trolley Museum will be the new home for CA&E 303, and the Electric City Trolley Museum will be the new owners for CA&E St Louis car 453.

I saw the ex-Fox River cars at Trolleyville, but never had a chance to ride them. Sometime next spring, the chance to finally ride a Fox River car should be realized, to realize that dream on the actual Fox River Line is something I honestly thought had little chance to happen. Likewise the CA&E St Louis cars and the CA&E Pullman, I saw them at Trolleyville, but never had a chance to even get inside them, much less ride them. Now they'll be less than 30 minutes from home. (My home that is !)

Both IRM and FRTM will need extensive funds to help with the costs of purchase, rigging, transport, track space, indoor storage, restorations, etc, etc.

IRM is accepting donations online at in increments of $25, accessed through the online store. Both IRM and FRTM also accept donations (no amount too small, every bit helps !) at the following addresses.

Illinois Railway Museum

PO Box 427

7000 Olson Rd

Union, IL 60180

Fox River Trolley Museum

PO Box 315

South Elgin, IL 60177

And with that, I'm looking at the calendar with only a little more than 30 days until Trainfest in Milwaukee. I've acquired a couple new pieces to add to the Interurbans of The Fox Valley display and I need to finish up some of the summer projects to be ready. Can't guarantee I'll be any more timely in posting the updates, but at least when it's all said and done I'll have plenty of new things to show here. Keep tuned.

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