Wednesday, June 16, 2010

North Shore 749 Celebration This Saturday!

On June 19, 2010, the Illinois Railway Museum in Union (McHenry County), Illinois will celebrate the return to service of Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee Railway Car No. 749, following completion of a 23 year restoration. Eighty-two years young and looking as good as the day it was new, Car No. 749 beckons to riders who want a taste of classic electric rail transportation—and beginning June 19, you can take a ride on it into the past. This historic interurban car served the Chicago to Milwaukee route—downtown to downtown—for more than 30 years. The car will be open for public viewing at noon; a ceremony and ribbon cutting will follow at 1 pm. After the ceremony, the car will make its first trips for invited guests boarding from the restored CTA 50th Avenue Station. It will continue in service for the afternoon. Additional Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee Railway equipment will be on display, including the historic 1941 Electroliner, which will be open for tours.

Built in 1928 at the Pullman Company's south side Chicago factory, Car No. 749 was acquired by the Illinois Railway Museum from scrappers after the abandonment of Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee Railway service in 1963. The 749 restoration is the first complete restoration of an interurban car attempted by the museum. Executive Director Nick Kallas describes the restoration as an excellent example of the quality and thoroughness of this all-volunteer museum, stating “While there was a core group of volunteers led by the late Roger Hewett who worked constantly on the car, we have identified almost 30 volunteers who at one time or another applied a special skill or just an extra pair of hands to a large project. Whether it was locating a mill in England that could still replicate the upholstery fabric, or fabricating a mold for an obsolete part, our volunteers applied their talents to overcome every obstacle.” Among those 30 volunteers are several youthful workers who were not even born when the railway line quit operation in 1963. Volunteer Scott Greig pointed out that new and unfamiliar skills were learned for the project—everything from metalworking to carpentry and wiring.

Executive Director Kallas also commented that without the financial support of friends and members of the museum, this restoration could not have taken place. The project volunteers also drew on their own financial resources to see the project through.

Museum Librarian Barbara Lanphier, who grew up riding the North Shore Line on an almost daily basis, reminds us that each year finds that fewer and fewer former riders and employees remain. The museum has contacted surviving employees of the long-defunct railroad, and has confirmed that they will be on board to relive a long-past part of their lives.

The Illinois Railway Museum is the nation’s premier museum dedicated to transportation history, featuring steam, diesel and electric rail transportation, motor buses, plus trolley buses from the United States and Canada. For more information on museum operations, visit the museum’s website at or call 1-800-BIG-RAIL (800-244-7245)—recorded information only.

Photo by Gwyn Stupar

1 comment:

C said...

A hearty well done to all concerned. It looks beautiful