The SOO Line passenger trains in Chicago

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The SOO Line passenger trains in Chicago
Posted by NP Eddie on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 12:43 PM

ALL:

This question is regarding the SOO passenger trains in Chicago. Two OG's show the SOO using Grand Central Station in Chicago. How did the SOO travel from Grand Central to their own trackage? It seems like they should have used CUS (on the MILW side), which would have been shorter. Did they use another station besides Grand Central? My mother and I rode the "Laker" from Duluth to Chicago. The french toast was very good. If my memory serves my correctly, the SOO ended Chicago passenger about 1959 or 1960.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 1:28 PM

Don't know SOO's route from Grand Central to their own trackage, but I do know they used Grand Central as they were generally in the station with their Geep lead passenger trains when I was making my monthly trips to All Nation Hobby Shop in Chicago, as a kid.

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Posted by rcdrye on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 2:55 PM

Before 1963, Soo passenger trains used the B&OCT line west parallel to the St. Charles Air Line past the B&OCT's Robey St. (Damen Avenue) coach yard, crossing the PRR's Panhandle at 14th St near Western, where the B&OCT's Altenheim sub turned west a couple of blocks north of Roosevelt Road to Cicero, the line then shifting a bit to the north along today's Eisenhower Expressway. 

West of Harlem in Forest Park, the B&OCT crossed the CA&E/CRT (CTA) at grade until 1959.  The CGW took off to the west from a junction just east of Des Plaines Ave.  the B&OCT line turned north to Madison.  The Soo Forest Park depot was on the south side of Madison, but Soo ownership didn't begin until the middle of Madison Avenue (between the Chicago and West Towns tracks).  When I was a kid in River Forest, the three bridges across Des Plaines had B&O, CGW and CTA logos from north to south.

The B&OCT line has a tangled history involving the St Charles Air Lien, NP, the Wisconson Central, the Chicago Terminal Transfer and some others, including the Lake Street Elevated and the Suburban Railroad, a C&WT predecessor, before B&O got control aroud 1910.  Some of Forest Park's street layout can be traced to the development of the route.

After 1963 the Soo used IC's Central station, using the "Short Hill" to get to the IC Iowa line.  At Broadview the Laker went through a hand-thrown connection to the IHB, regaining Soo rails at Franklin Park.

The All Nation Hobby Shop was one of the best anywhere.  I usually got there on the Lake Street L, direct before 1969, via the Loop Shuttle after.

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Posted by bill613a on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 4:23 PM

The LAKER was discontinued in January 1965.

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Posted by rcdrye on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 6:41 PM

The Laker used Central from Jan 4, 1963 to Jan 15, 1965.  The train and its connecting Owen-St. Paul train were discontinued after a several-months long fight over the loss of the mail contract.  It certainly wasn't done for the benefit of passengers. The deal to use Central was partly to save money, but was mainly valuable for freight and transfer trackage rights that lasted long after the Laker was discontinued. The Laker had been cut back slightly (to Superior from Duluth, and St Paul from Minneapolis) in 1961.

Soo Line's only dual-control GP9, #2555, was often used on the Owen-St Paul connection.

The Soo Line continued to use the B&OCT, as did the Wisconsin Central, connecting with the Belt Railway of Chicago at Kostner Avenue, and going downtown for transfer runs or to switch the Soo Line freighthouse at Roosevelt and Canal just south of Union Station.  A better physical connection with the IHB, and later the CN's buy of the EJ&E, moved most traffic off of the line via Forest Park.  The Altenheim sub is out of service between the BRC and Western Avenue, and most of the right-of-way and facilities east of Western Avenue have been gone for thirty years or so.

Soo Line's Wisconsin Central used IC's Central after 1899 as a result of losing control of the Chicago & Northern Pacific, returning to Grand Central in 1912. Central was reached via the C&NP/CTT to a connection with the St Charles Air Line in the track tangle just west of the Chicago River.

The B&OCT Altenheim sub was built as the Chicago and Great Western in 1886, merged with the Chicago and Calumet Terminal into the C&NP in 1890, was purchased by the Chicago Terminal Transfer in 1897, and the whole mess folded into the B&OCT in 1910.  The Chicago and Great Western was not related to the later Chicago Great Western Railway.

A strange footnote is that the Wisconsin Central was electrified by the Suburban Railroad from a point near today's Washington Blvd on the Forest Park/River Forest boundary to Thatcher Park, a picnic park on the Des Plaines River in River Forest (now part of the Thatcher Woods Forest Preserve) from about 1897 to about 1902, before the tracks were elevated to cross over the C&NW Galena Division.  The Randolph Street line of the Suburban Railway to the east in Oak Park was shared with trains of the Lake Street Elevated Railway east of Wisconsin Avenue in Oak Park for part of that period.

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Posted by bill613a on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 9:25 PM

I seem to remember a book store in Chicago that had a great selection of railroad books and memorabilia that I visited in December of 1972 or was it the All Nation Hobby Shop?

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Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 6:36 AM

There was another hobby shop a couple of blocks east on Madison from about 1972 to 1976 or so.  The bookstore was probably Krochs & Brentanos, within a couple of blocks of both of them.  There was a local K&B in Oak Park that was my go-to for railroad books.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 10:11 AM

rcdrye

There was another hobby shop a couple of blocks east on Madison from about 1972 to 1976 or so.  The bookstore was probably Krochs & Brentanos, within a couple of blocks of both of them.  There was a local K&B in Oak Park that was my go-to for railroad books.

 
I believe that the store was called Hobby Service and Supply and was located below street level on a passage to the Dearborn Street Subway.
The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by NP Eddie on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 7:38 PM

ALL:

Thanks for all the information about the "Laker". Unless I misread the above posts, what was the reason for the SOO changing from Grand Central to Central? Did the IC give the SOO a better deal? I understand that only the B&O and C&O used Grand Central until those roads moved to the CNW station. Wasn't the Grand Central torn down before AMTRAK?

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 8:31 PM

NP Eddie
ALL:

Thanks for all the information about the "Laker". Unless I misread the above posts, what was the reason for the SOO changing from Grand Central to Central? Did the IC give the SOO a better deal? I understand that only the B&O and C&O used Grand Central until those roads moved to the CNW station. Wasn't the Grand Central torn down before AMTRAK?

Ed Burns

B&O sold Grand Central for its real estate value and moved their (and C&O) passenger operation to the CNW station somewhere in the mid-60's.

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, March 23, 2017 1:21 AM

I think this was in 1968.  I was working in the Downers Grove office of Bolt Beranek and Newman and had a project in DC, allowing me to use the Capitol Limited.  I recall first using Grand Central and then the C&NW stations.  I also recall gong to an architcts' "ball," dancing and refreshments, a buffet dinner, at Grand Central just after closure and before demolition.  I think out clients, Skidmore Owens and Merrill invited us.

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Posted by rcdrye on Thursday, March 23, 2017 6:39 AM

Last day of operation of Grand Central was November 8, 1969.  After the move, C&NW ticket windows handled B&O/C&O tickets.

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, March 23, 2017 8:19 AM

Thanks for the correction.  I worked in Downers Grove 1967-1970.  I imagine the date of the architects' ball was 9 November.

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Posted by NP Eddie on Thursday, March 23, 2017 5:33 PM

ALL:

Thanks again for the many responses. I have learned quite a bit! It does seem strange that the SOO did not make an agreement with the MILW for the use of the north side of CUS and have the MILW service their equipment.

Also, some might not know this, the SOO only had one lightweight car (business car Minneapolis) that was sold to GN in 1965. I believe this is the BNSF's St. Croix River.

In addition, the SOO passenger cars had link chains and hooks on opposite ends of each passenger car so they would stay coupled together in case the regular coupler failed. Sorry, but I did not take any photos of those.

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Posted by rcdrye on Friday, March 24, 2017 7:00 AM

Soo A-2, built as "Minneapolis" by Pullman, went to GN as A-2 in 1965, to BN A-2 "Columbia River".  "St. Croix River" is the former "Manitoba Club" built as "Oberlin Glacier" and converted to an 8 DupRmt 2 DBR buffet lounge for the Winnipeg Limited.  I have seen a reference to the WC acquiring a pair of lightweight or semi-lightweight baggage cars, but I no longer have the book it was in. 

Prior to 1961, The Laker was carried on the Soo Line accounts as a Wisconsin Central train.  Ownership of cars could be determined by a small "W.C." on the end of the letterboards of WC-owned cars, marks which did not indicate sanitary facilities. WC-owned 2500-series FP7s and GP9s were usually assigned.  After the merger, "Old Soo" 500-series were often seen.  In steam days, 2700 series H-20 H-22 or H-23 pacifics or N-20s 4008-4020 were common power.

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, March 24, 2017 9:18 AM

Recall seeing the WC markings on some SOO equipment.  Never understood what the relationship was between the two.

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Posted by rcdrye on Friday, March 24, 2017 11:41 AM

Both the old Soo Line (MStP&SSM) and the WC were partly owned by Canadian Pacific, as was the DSS&A.  The Soo  Line leased the Wisconsin Central in 1909, operating it as its Chicago extension.  WC had its own stock- and bondholders, kept its own books, and owned its own equipment. Soo Line didn't pay rent, but it also didn't get any direct income. Soo Line did all of the accounting, traffic solicitation and other such, so that WC equipment on the old Soo and Vice Versa were watched closely.  WC emerged from bankruptcy in the early 1950s, and forced the "parent" in matters of replacement of steam (WC built its own diesel shop in Fond du Lac in 1954) and even the types of diesels purchased (WC got the first of the GP9s).  The Soo, the WC and the DSS&A were all merged together as the new Soo Line Railroad at the end of 1960. (DSS&A's corporate shell was re-used, if it matters).  CP owned around 55% before 1990, when it got near 100% control.

WC was built by local promoters in sections, getting to Chicago around 1883.  It was leased by the NP around 1889, cut loose in NP's bankruptcy, and operated independently until 1909.

The B&OCT line from Forest Park was built by the WC through its Chicago and Great Western Subsidiary (NOT the later CGW).  NP used the C&GW as part of its plan to control Chicago, shifting its ownership and assets among NP's Chicago Terminal properties. NP's monumental financial tangles in the 1890s resulted in WC losing control of its Chicago entrance.

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, March 24, 2017 3:37 PM

Amazing how twisted and in some cases incestuous the 'official' financial lineage of the various carriers as they have come from the 1830's to today.  When you look at what X did to Y to screw Z it was a real 'Peyton Place'.

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 7:59 AM

I lived along a line that was bought by the Soo Line in the early 1980's. The Soo generally used high-nose GPs on the line in the 1980's, either two together or one with a Milwaukee MP-15. Even in the 1980's, the Soo Line engines had three digit numbers, while the Wisconsin Central ones had four digits and a small "WC" high up on the sides of the short nose. Could be the WC engines had been bought in the 1950's on a long-term trust/mortgage, and had to have some indication of that for accounting purposes.

BTW I believe before NAFTA in the 1990's, foreign companies like CP could only own 49.9% of a US company, the majority had to be US owned.

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Posted by bill613a on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 4:17 PM

The name of the bookstore was Owen Davies, Bookseller.

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