Aug 31, 2015

Dummies - Morgan Park and Beverly

Dummies - Morgan Park and Beverly

I have been puzzled for some time about references to the Rock Island Dummy Line. References to the dummy line are often found in histories of Beverly and Morgan Park, but the term is not explained.  What is now known as the Surburban line that served the communities was originally called the "dummy line".

Now, as a Mount Greenwood Hood I am happy to call my fellow alumni from Beverly/Morgan Park dummies. But I still wanted to know about the origin on the name.

The map above is part of the development map of Washington Heights in 1874, and shows the Dummy Line (aka Suburban line of the Rock Island).

Click below to see the full map


Wikapedia has the following about railroad "dummies".

steam dummy or dummy engine, in the United States of America and Canada, was a steam engine enclosed in a wooden box structure made to resemble a railroad passenger coach. Steam dummies had some popularity in the first decades of railroading in the U.S., from the 1830's but passed from favor after the Civil War. In Europe, locomotives of this type were described as Tram engines.

It was thought that the more familiar appearance of a coach presented by a steam dummy, as compared to a conventional engine, would be less likely to frighten horses when these trains had to operate in city streets. Later it was discovered that it was actually the noise and motion of the operating gear of a steam engine that frightened horses, rather than the unfamiliar outlines of a steam engine.

Many steam dummies were simply locomotives enclosed in coach's clothing, but some combined an actual railroad coach in the same body with the locomotive, creating an all-in-one vehicle that was a predecessor of later self-propelled railcars, usually powered by electricity or petrol.

Photos of other "Dummies"

"Nearly 80 dummy lines ran in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most were short lines that connected suburbs to a central city. For example, a six-mile line linked Independence and Kansas City."

"Accounts vary, but the term “dummy” apparently derived from the silencing equipment on the steam engines so as not to alarm horses. Regardless of the term’s etymology, Warrensburg’s little train was called ‘The Dummy’."
Excerpted from Dummy Line

The Ridge Historical Society explains the Dummy Name as follows:

Railroad History of the Area
In the early years of the Rock Island Railroad, it saw no need to stop after Englewood until it reached Blue Island, the next real area of civilization. The scattering of farmers along this route did not warrant the necessity of stopping the trains. Produce could be taken by wagon to Chicago or Blue Island. The small population did not require the services of passenger trains. The event that changed this was the construction of the Chicago and Great Eastern Railroad in 1864. This railroad would cross the Rock Island at Vincennes Avenue and Tracy (103rd Street). A small settlement of immigrant railroad workers and farmers developed around this point. This area, known, as "The Crossing" required the trains from both railroads to stop before crossing the other's tracks. This area today is known as Washington Heights.

The Great Eastern, later called the "Pan Handle", agreed to build a small station for the accommodation of the area's residents. It was now possible to travel to downtown Chicago on the train. An additional stop was made at Upwood ( the site of Thomas Morgan's country estate at 91st and Longwood Drive). The Great Eastern provided an "accommodation" train between The Crossing and Chicago, which was essentially the first suburban commuter train to the area. Recollections of residents speak of a "dummy train" painted blue.

Dummy locomotives were a combination locomotive and passenger car housed in a body designed to disguise the steaming beast from skittish horses. The horses were rarely fooled, and the trains limited capacity, slow speed, and habit of jumping off the track hindered the growth of passenger traffic. The name was also applied to the original connection point of the Rock Island main and branch lines at 97th Street (Dummy Junction) and the branch line itself (Dummy Line). While there is no record of the Rock Island using dummy equipment, they did use small locomotives designed to run backwards and forwards. Residents may have named these diminutive locomotives "dummys" as well.

Sounds like a reasonable explanation.  But I think we Mount Greenwoodites will still refer to our Morgan Park / Beverly friends as "dummies".  

Chicago Street Cars

Click for a video 1956 to 58

Chicago Streetcars


Chicago once had one of the world’s largest streetcar systems, more than 500 miles of line on nearly 100 routes by 1935. Horsecar service began in 1859, and was supplanted in the 1880s by a large network of cable car lines. In the 1890s, electric “trolleys” proved more efficient and the cable cars were replaced by 1906. Beginning in 1914, the various companies holding franchises for different parts of the city operated as a single system known as Chicago Surface Lines.
More than 3,700 large red streetcars plied the city’s streets by 1935, and 680 new streamlined green PCC cars began arriving after World War II. The new public agency Chicago Transit Authority took over the streetcar system in 1947 and began to integrate the surface lines with the city’s elevated train network. In the 1950s, CTA decided to phase out streetcars in favor of motor and electric trolley buses, and Chicago’s last streetcar ran in June 1958.
These books (both out of print) offer more details:

Lind, Alan R. Chicago Surface Lines: An Illustrated History
Johnson, James D. A Century of Chicago Streetcars
This map dates from 1937, the peak year for track mileage:

Click for more info and great maps

Aug 30, 2015

If You Fall

(Too good to pass up another Share...) Ya know...... its not the fall that is the problem..... its the sudden stop. hahahhahahahahahahaha

Richard Anderer

Thanks to Richard Anderer for sharing on Facebook

South Shore Line - Chicago to South Bend

The interurban was an electric railway that was important in the eastern half of the United States from about 1890 to 1925. Interurbans provided passenger service between cities and towns.

Interurbans were a cross between a streetcar and a train. There were 15,500 miles of interurban rail in the US in 1915.

Interurbans in the Chicago region included the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad (North Shore Line), the Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railroad, and the South Shore Line.

The South Shore Line that services Chicago to South Bend is one of the last operations still running in the US that began life as an interurban.  It still operates in Michigan City, Indiana down the middle of a street like a street car.  The equipment is now modern electric rail equipment.

The South Shore Line has flag stops. Back in the good old days you would flag a train and it would stop and pick you up.
I did this at Calumet Harbor, a desolate spot with no sign of any kind of train station.  I simply waived my hand and the seven car train stopped from 70+ miles per hour. I ran to the train and hopped off and off we went. People were surprised to see the train stop to pick me up.

At night people would light a newspaper so the train would know that a passenger wanted them to stop.  Now flag stops have a 

"push button located in or near the shelter to activate strobe light to signal train to stop. Please push button at least 5 minutes before scheduled departure time of train. Strobe light will turn off automatically after 10 minutes. Passengers should remain visible to engineer when standing at platform. There is no strobe at McCormick Place or 63rd St."



Comparing electric interurban railways and "steam railroads". The three major interurbans entering Chicago were not typical interurban lines, enabling them to survive well beyond the 1930's, when most interurban lines were abandoned.


"America's Last Interurban" continues to operate between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana.


Operated until 1963 between Chicago and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Operated until 1957 west of Chicago.


These three major interurban lines entering Chicago were once controlled by Samuel Insull, who also controlled various electric companies including Chicago's Commonwealth Edison, along with other interurban lines in Indiana, and the Chicago Rapid Transit Co.
Insull acquired control of the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad Co. in 1916, the Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railroad Co. in 1926, and the Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad in 1925. Insull resigned from control of all companies in 1932.


The more traditional interurban lines were more local in nature, and were basically extensions of city streetcar lines into the country, and on to other cities. Such lines typically ran alongside country roads, which generally were not paved at the time. But the paving of such roads in the 1920's and 1930's made the local interurban lines obsolete, with buses able to do the job more economically.


The first local transit routes in Chicago's suburbs were electric railways, including streetcar and interurban lines. Nearly all of these routes were replaced with buses during the 1930's, evolving to today's Pace bus system.


Local interurban lines did once extend beyond the Chicago area into northern Illinois. But outside the 6 county Chicago metropolitan area, public transit agencies were never approved, and local and interurban public transportation disappeared entirely.


Some of America's most comprehensive interurban railway networks existed in the Midwest states beyond Chicago.


Beyond the Midwest, the development of interurban lines was generally quite fragmented, except in the densely populated northeastern United States, where many local electric railways existed and interconnected.


The interurban industry is one of the most unsuccessful industries to ever exist in America. Included are misconceptions and myths, and what really happened to interurban transportation.

  1. Interurban - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Jump to Power collection by rolling stock – Most interurban cars and freight locomotives collected current from ... An example of this was the Chicago, Aurora, and Elgin where a ... AC transmission lines, and AC/DC conversion systems.

  2. CHICAGO INTERURBANS PAGE - chicago transit & railfan

    When one thinks of an electric interurban railway, one usually thinks of the ChicagoSouth Shore and South Bend Railroad (South Shore Line), generally ...

  3. Interurban electric rail -- Chicago Tribune

    The Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad, an electric interurban rail linethat carried passengers between Milwaukee and downtown Chicago, shut ...

  4. The Last Interurbans - Academic Web Server - Presbyterian College › Academic Web Server › Jon Bell › Transit

    Jul 14, 2007 – A list of electric interurban railways in the US that survived until ... to Wisconsin, using a series of connecting interurban lines... 1957, Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, Illinois, Third-rail power; used 'L' tracks to reach Chicago's Loop ...

  5. Welcome to the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society

    We invite you to join the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society and explore First & Fastest ... in what is now known as the Chicago Hub Network of Amtrak, and our special publications. ... Want to find out about our new electronic publication?

  6. Winnetka's “North Shore Line” Electric Inter-urban Service

    Winnetka's “North Shore Line” Electric Inter-urban Service. Gazette ... Fifty years ago, an inter-urban, electrified railroad known as the Chicago, North Shore, and ...

  7. ELECTRIC INTERURBAN RAILWAYS | The Handbook of Texas ...

    The electric interurban industry in Texas totaled nearly 500 miles, the second ...About 70 percent of the mileage was in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where electric lines ... LeRoy O. King (Chicago: Central Electric Railfans' Association, 1982).

  8. Old South Shore (America's Last Classic Interurban Railway ...

    Apr 10, 2008 - Uploaded by GreenFrogVideos
    Purchase at -- By the late 1970s, theChicago, South Shore and ... been the sturdiest of ...
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    THE ELECTRIC INTERURBAN IN ILLINOIS ... Two of the interurban lines spreading outward from Chicago competed with the automobile for many years by ...

  11. Interurbans - Encyclopedia of Chicago

    By 1910 a network of interurban electric railways connected many of the cities ... to the Loop over the Chicago Elevated Railway's Northwestern line until 1919.

Aug 29, 2015

'Chicago Fire' Shooting on Location in Beverly

'Chicago Fire' Shooting on Location in Beverly

TV show's production company will be in the Beverly neighborhood on September 1. Some streets will be closed for production.

Click to read more.

Thanks to Chris Leo for sharing on our MPHS Facebook Group Page.

Aug 28, 2015

Chicago Nuclear Waste Forest Preserve

The Cook County Forest Preserves has the land where the World's First Nuclear Reactor was rebuilt during World War II.  During the war there was an enormous effort to develop the first Atomic Bomb before the Nazi's or Imperial Japan.  

The government was sloppy about disposing of the site, and buried a lot of material.  There was quite a bit of radiation.

My brother, father and I went to the site when I was about 12. We wandered around the site, and found an old metal building that had some weird, very light soil. My brother and I climbed the soil pile in the building and slid down the hill. Probably not the smartest thing we ever did but we did not 
glow or anything.

    Red Gate Woods: 'Site A' - Forest Preserves of Cook County

    Forest Preserve District of Cook County
    Their ultimate goal was to make the accepted theory of nuclear fission a physical .... Once the survey scope expanded to include nearby Red Gate Woods picnic  ...

    Red Gate Woods - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Red Gate Woods is part of a forest preserve within the Palos Division of the ... Site, which contains the buried remains of Chicago Pile-1, the world's first nuclear  ...

    Here Lies the World's First Nuke | Feature | Chicago Reader

    Chicago Reader
    Graphite blocks were used to slow down neutrons in the first nuclear reactor; Norbert ...Toward the end of the last ice age, Red Gate Woods was what geologists  ...
    You visited this page on 8/27/15.

    [PDF]Red Gate Woods - Beyond Nuclear

    Dec 1, 2012 - Red Gate Woods: History's First Radioactive Dust Bin. By Kevin ... We did not see how a true nuclear explosion, such as that of an atomic bomb,.
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    Red Gate Woods To Open By Spring - tribunedigital ...

    Chicago Tribune
    Oct 4, 1996 - Cleanup Of Nuclear Debris Nearly Finished, U.s. Says ... Known as Site A, the 19 acres deep inside Red Gate Woods in southwest Cook  ...

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  1. Red Gate Woods | Atlas Obscura

    "Caution - Do Not Dig". A curious epitaph, but a forest preserve is a curious place to house a nuclear reactor laboratory, and Red Gates Woods in Cook County,  ...

    Chicago Pile I - First Nuclear Plant Meltdown? - Hidden In ...

    Apr 6, 2012 - Hidden In Open Sight, Nuclear Reactor Buried In The Woods ... "Red Gate Woods is a forest preserve within the Palos Division of the Forest  ...

    Plot M Nuclear Burial Site, Willow Springs IL - YouTube

    Mar 19, 2012 - Uploaded by U2 boy
    The Site A/Plot M Disposal Site is located within Red Gate Woods and situated on the former grounds of ...

    Radiation Readings at Plot M Well in Red Gate Woods ...
    May 3, 2010 - Uploaded by reznicek111
    Radiation Readings at Plot M Well in Red Gate Woods. reznicek111 .... Searching for the buried nuclear reactor in the woods. - Duration: 14:50.