Lake Shore Electric Railway Auction, Updated October 02, 2009

by Bob Bresse-Rodenkirk

After decades in the Cleveland area, seven Chicago-area interurban cars are returning home.

The cars are among 31 auctioned off to 10 museums October 2 in a sealed-bid auction for the collection of streetcars and interurbans assembled by real estate entrepreneur Gerald E. Brookins.

The 10 museums, including Illinois Railway Museum and the Fox River Trolley Museum, represented a consortium assembled by Shore Line Trolley Museum President Bill Wall.

“Chicago lost the Olympics but it got the Aurora & Elgin cars,” said IRM General manager Nick Kallas, who traveled to Cleveland for the opening of the bids, the only railway museum executive to do so.

IRM obtained Chicago, Aurora & Elgin cars 36 (Stephenson, 1902), 319 (Jewett, 1914), 409 (Pullman, 1923), 451 and 460 (both St. Louis, 1945) as well as Cooperativa de Transportes Urbanos y Suburbanos (Veracruz, Mexico) open car 19, a type of car not represented until now in the IRM collection.

“The euphoria is still sinking in here,” Kallas said. “We got what we wanted Aurora & Elgin-wise, although we didn’t get everything we wanted.”

Kallas said the cars may operate for the first time at IRM before the end of 2009, possibly in a special event for donors.

“It’s going to be a four-car steel train,” said Kallas, the fourth car being CA&E 431 (Cincinnati, 1927). “I think there’s going to be some wet eyes out there after all these years.”

Kallas said IRM bid directly on nine cars in the complicated bidding process, in which two separate sets of bids were prepared. One set of bids were submitted directly to the board of the Lake Shore Electric Ry. Museum, which maintained the Brookins collection in its final years. The other, successful, consortium bid was assembled by Wall.

The motors will need to be reinstalled on CA&E 36 before it can operate; they had been removed for repair while in Cleveland. The other happy problem that IRM faces is finding room for six new cars at once, a stretch even for IRM, which is just completing construction of another barn.

“While all space is committed, we’re going to be doing a big shuffle around the place and we think we’ll be pretty successful in getting them inside,” Kallas said.

Fox River Trolley Museum is equally elated. Not only did it obtain another CA&E car, the 458 (St. Louis, 1945), it obtained an interurban that was built for its own railroad, Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric (later Shaker Heights Rapid Transit) car 304 (St. Louis, 1923).

“The greatest dream of the Fox River Trolley Museum is a reality,” museum President Edward Konecki said. “A Fox River car is coming home to the Fox River Line.”

Fox River has long planned an extension of its car barn, and Konecki said those plans may be fast-tracked. It also deaccessioned Johnstown 362 (St. Louis, 1926) to make room in the barn for AE&FRE 304. Konecki said at least one museum has expressed interest in the Johnstown car.

“Next come the challenges of moving them, and preparing them for operation,” Konecki said. CA&E 458 is easily the roughest of the returning cars. Gary Brookins, Gerald Brookins’ son and a long-time Trolleyville and LSE board member, said it has not operated in recent years. Konecki said AE&FRE 304 also has some mechanical issues which need to be addressed before it can be put into service at Fox River.

Both museums continue to raise funds to defray the cost of acquiring the cars and transporting them to the Chicago area.

IRM is accepting donations online, at http://www.irm.org/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=715, in increments of $25, and Kallas said he expects IRM to develop a program to encourage higher-level donations. Fox River Trolley Museum is accepting donations at the museum, or through the mail at P.O. Box 315, South Elgin, Ill., 60177-0315. Fox River also hopes to begin accepting online donations soon. It already has developed a program for higher-level donations:

  • $- $100: a one-day pass for rides on AE&FRE 304 and other operating cars; the donor gets to designate the day.
  • $- $250: a one-month pass for rides on AE&FRE 304 and other operating cars; the donor gets to designate the month.
  • $- $500: a one-season pass for two for rides on AE&FRE 304 and other cars, anticipated to be for the 2010 operating season.
  • $- $1,000: An invitation to ride the first regular trip of AE&FRE 304, along with a one-season pass for two.

Two ex-CA&E cars and one former AE&FRE car will not be returning to Chicago. CA&E 303 will travel the farthest, relocating to the Connecticut Trolley Museum, in East Windsor, Conn., with three other cars from the Brookins collection. The Northern Ohio Railway Museum, of Chippewa Lake, O., will obtain five cars, including AE&FRE 303, which is expected to be restored in its silver, cream and red Shaker Heights livery, which Milwaukee transit fans may also remember as the livery worn by the two ex-Shaker Heights and ex-fox River cars that labored for Speedrail 1950-51. The Electric City Trolley Museum, of Scranton, Pa., will obtain four cars, including CA&E 453.

The consortium bid was the higher of the two and Wall said it successfully retires the Cleveland museum’s debt. LSE, named for the famed Ohio interurban that connected Toledo and Cleveland until 1938, had moved the collection in 2006 from suburban Olmsted Twp. to downtown Cleveland, hoping to establish a heritage trolley line in the Flats East Bank area, and at one time negotiated with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) to assume operation of its Waterfront rapid transit line using the interurbans. The economic downturn iced its ability to raise funds, and LSE had no other way to pay the bills for the engineering studies and planning it had commissioned.

Terms of the deal require the museums to remove the cars from Cleveland by the end of the year.

The cars dispersed to museums in the Chicago area are as follows:

- Illinois Railway Museum:

  • Cooperativa de Transportes Urbanos y Suburbanos (Veracruz, Mexico) open car 19
  • Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Wood Car 36 (Stephenson, 1902)
  • Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Wood Car 319 (Jewett, 1914)
  • Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Steel Car 409 (Pullman, 1923)
  • Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Steel Car 451 (St. Louis, 1945)
  • Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Steel Car 460 (St. Louis, 1945)

- Fox River Trolley Museum:

  • AE&FRE 304
  • Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Steel Car 458 (St. Louis, 1945)

The cars dispersed to museums outside of the Chicago area are as follows:

- National Capital Trolley Museum:

  • Blackpool “Boat Car” 606
  • Toronto PCC 3602
  • MBTA PCC 3334

- Pennsylvania Trolley Museum:

  • Cincinnati Street Railway 2227
  • Toledo Rys. parlor car “Toledo”
  • Centerville, Albia & Southern Ry. box motor 100

- Northern Ohio Railway Museum:

  • AE&FRE 303
  • Cleveland Peter Witt 1225
  • Cleveland Transit System Airporter car 172
  • Northern Ohio Traction & Light Co. (later Shaker Heights and GCRTA) box motor OX
  • Norfolk & Western caboose 508021

- Seashore Trolley Museum:

  • Cleveland Rys. Peter Witt trailer 2365
  • Cleveland Transit System “Bluebird” rapid transit car 113

- Connecticut Trolley Museum:

  • CA&E 303
  • Centervlle, Albia & Southern Ry. line car 1
  • Centerville, Albia & Southern Ry. box motor 101
  • New York, Ontario & Western caboose 8146

- Electric City Trolley Museum:

  • CA&E 453
  • Shaker Heights PCC cars 63, 71 and 76

- Fort Smith (Ark.) Trolley Museum:

  • Cooperativa de Transportes Urbanos y Suburbanos(Veracruz) open car 9

- New York Museum of Transportation:

  • one unpowered line car

Previous update, Lake Shore Electric Railway Auction, September 24, 2009

The bidding process for the Trolleyville USA collection being sold off by successor Lake Shore Electric Railway Museum is proving to be a lively one.

Museum director Gary Brookins, the son of founder Gerald E. Brookins, said 35 museums viewed the equipment during a public inspection in late August and bids have begun to roll in.

The decision by the LSE Museum board to liquidate left little time for fund-raising. Some have opted to stay by the sidelines, while two of the three major Chicago-area museums have ambitious hopes and are seeking donations in advance of the Oct. 1 deadline to submit bids.

The Illinois Railway Museum board Aug. 8 voted to acquire as many as eight cars from the Brookins collection. IRM General Manager Nick Kallas said that among those being sought are CA&E cars 303 (Niles, 1906), 319 (Jewett, 1914), 409 (Pullman, 1923), 451 and 460 (both St. Louis, 1945).

The Fox River Trolley Museum’s focus is on cars that once plied its own rails – former Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric (later Shaker Heights Rapid Transit) cars 303 and 304 (both St. Louis, 1923).

IRM is accepting donations of any amount, but is offering contributors a chance to donate online in increments of $25 at http://www.irm.org/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=715.

Fox River Trolley Museum is accepting donations of any amount, mailed to P.O. Box 315, South Elgin, IL 60177-0315, although it is investigating online donations as well. It is offering special incentives for those making larger donations.

  • $100: A one-day pass to ride the AE&FRE car plus any other cars in the collection. The donor determines the day of use.

  • $250: A one-month pass to ride the AE&FRE car plus any other cars in the collection. The donor determines the month of use.

  • $500: A one-season pass for two to ride the AE&FRE car plus any other cars in the collection. This would be for the first season that the AE&FRE car is operated. (Barring unforeseen circumstances this should be the 2010 operating season.)

  • $1,000: An invitation to ride the first regular passenger trip of the car plus a one-season pass for two.

Fox River is developing a recognition program for larger individual and corporate donations.

The museums are not believed to be the only ones interested in the 10 interurban cars with a Chicago heritage.

Kallas and Brookins both said they expected the Western Railway Museum, Suisun City, Cal., to bid for one or more CA&E cars and other pieces of the collection, in conjunction with San Francisco’s Market Street Ry., while Fox River President Ed Konecki said he expected Northern Ohio Ry. Museum, in Chippewa Lake, Ohio, to bid for one of the ex-Fox River cars.

Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, in Washington, Pa., which obtained a Pittsburgh Rys. streetcar from the Brookins collection in June, confirmed that it is seeking additional cars, although museum Executive Director Scott Becker declined to be more specific.

Likewise, the Lorain County (Ohio) Port Authority, which has incorporated a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit to operate a tourist railway linking its Lake Erie waterfront with its downtown business district, expects to bid for a number of cars, especially those with a Cleveland or Ohio connection.

“It’s quite a neat collection,” said Tom Brown, Lorain County Port Authority director, who said he would like to acquire as much of the collection as financial backers will allow, without being specific. “We’re just trying to get our track up and running. We’ve been at it too long (seven years) and we’ve got to get something so that people can see them, feel them and hear them.”

Brown said Lorain County officials have visited the Kenosha Electric Ry., among other properties, and plan a line based on the Kenosha model, more oriented toward tourists than everyday riders.

Not every museum that wanted to bid is doing so.

Jerry Moore, president of the Midwest Electric Ry., Mt. Pleasant, Ia., said if the museum were in a better financial position, it would bid on CA&E 319 as well as a line car and box motor that trace their heritage to the Centerville, Albia & Southern Ry., in Iowa.

“We would love to bid on them, but financially we can’t afford to get one – and getting them out here might be twice the cost,” he said.

Pairing 319 with Mt. Pleasant’s beautifully-restored 320, one of three “high-speed woods” once owned by the CA&E, would have been a natural, Moore said.

The third “high-speed wood,” CA&E 321, is in the IRM collection.

 

         
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