Product Details

Chicago West Towns Rwys
James Buckley, ed. Richard Aaron
Central Electric Railfans Asso
ISBN or Item #
Date Listed:
2006-06-17 16:34:55
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Transit Service in Chicago's Near West Suburbs

By James J. Buckley [Edited by Richard W. Aaron].

8.5x11", cloth with dust jacket, 250 pages, 311 photos.

"Eight miles west of Chicago's Loop is a cluster of 17 long-established communities that were served by a street railway and bus system whose roots can be traced back to the late 19th century. The Chicago & West Towns Railways operated five major streetcar lines that provided convenient and inexpensive transportation to the residents of communities of Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park, Maywood, Cicero, Berwyn, Brookfield, and LaGrange.

"The West Town's blue and white streetcars provided area residents with transportation to school, work and shopping. The cars were also kept busy transporting visitors to major west suburban attractions such as Brookfield Zoo, forest preserves picnic groves, Hawthorne and Sportsman's Park racetracks, and Hines Memorial Hospital. Whether it was carrying residents from their homes in Oak Park or Forest Park to their jobs at American Can in Maywood or the giant Western Electric Company factory in Cicero, or taking Chicago families on a weekend outing to the zoo, the Chicago & West Towns Railway served as the "family car" in the era before auto ownership and traffic congestion became the norm."

James J. Buckley (1918-1994) was one of the deans of the Chicago train buff community. He is probably best known for his work with the Electric Railway Historical Society. This organization published 49 bulletins and acquired a collection of Chicago area transit vehicles including Chicago & West Towns streetcar 141, two trolley buses, and eight other Chicago streetcars. Jim authored two books for ERHS, The Evanston Railway Company and The Hammond, Whiting & East Chicago Railway, and provided inputs to most of the others.

"Jim was also a major participant at CERA. He served for many years on the publication staff and, for a few years, was a director of the association. With his unsurpassed expertise in rosters and technical data, he provided material support for over 20 CERA bulletins. In the list of credits for each bulletin, his contributions earned such titles as Publications Co-Director and Roster Editor. He was the author of CERA B-84, Gary Railways; CERA B-93, Chicago & Interurban Traction Company, and wrote a major article in B-88 about the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company. Jim also contributed programs to the monthly CERA membership meetings.

"Jim was particularly creative in developing and researching data sources that others overlooked. He was an expert in using bankruptcy and abandonment court records, builder's office files, and newspaper articles to check and cross check electric railway roster data. He also became an expert in interviewing employees and former employees of transportation companies to get their insights on the property for which they worked....At the time of his death in June 1994, Jim was doing what he loved, researching electric railway operations - this time in Bremen, Germany."


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