In the 1950s and 1960s, My father made a project of photographing the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee, the distinctive interurban electric line connecting it’s namesakes.
Last month, John Gruber and I paid a visit to the Illinois Railway Museum at Union, Illinois. Like my father, John had focused on the North Shore. He made hundreds of excellent photographs that distilled the spirit of the railway.
North Shore was before my time, but I feel that I know the line thanks to my dad’s and John’s photographs, which were featured in books by the late William D. Middleton.
The railway may be gone 55 years, but key pieces of it’s equipment survive.
I made these digital views of preserved North Shore cars at IRM using my FujiFIlm X-T1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens. This flat-field super wide-angle lens is well suited to making images in the tight quarters of IRM’s car barns.
John Gruber has an on-going exhibit of his finest North Shore photography in the East Union Station at IRM. This will be subject of another Tracking the Light post.
Last week I traveled with John Gruber to the Illinois Railway Museum at Union. John needed to deliver some material in relation to his North Shore photo exhibit, and he wanted me to expose a few images of him with his photographs.
Between 1960 and 1963, John made a project of documenting the last years of operation of the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee interurban electric line.
North Shore was an intensive electric line that connected the Chicago Loop (trains served downtown using the rapid transit ‘L’—[elevated line]) with Milwaukee, Wisconsin via Chicago’s northern suburbs. The line was well known for its articulated streamlined speedsters called Electroliners and its electrically cooked hamburgers known as Electroburgers. Operations concluded in January 1963.
John’s work is iconic. He exposed thousands of North Shore photographs and his photography goes well beyond ordinary images of the trains. He focused on people as well as machines, and preserved a feel for this unusual railway in motion.
Johns work was prominently featured in the pages of Trains magazine and in books such as those by the late William D. Middleton.
His current exhibit can be seen in the waiting room of the East Union station at IRM. It will be on display through the end of 2016.
Of course, while we were at IRM, we took the opportunity to travel the line, and visit some of the historic equipment (which includes several of North Shore’s cars).
In addition to a variety of digital photos, I exposed these black & white images with my Leica.