A DANVILLE STREETCAR ALBUM
H. George Friedman, Jr.
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Danville, Illinois had streetcar service in the form of horsecars beginning in 1883. Electric streetcars began serving Danville in 1891. The system was purchased by William B. McKinley in 1901, and became the nucleus of his Illinois Traction System. The first ITS lines were extensions of the Danville streetcar system to nearby towns such as Catlin, Westville, and Georgetown, followed in 1903 by the main line to Urbana and Champaign.
By 1906, Danville had a fairly large streetcar system for a small city. The main trunk line was a double track route on E. Main Street from Vermilion out to the Soldier's Home (the site of the present day V. A. medical complex and the Danville Area Community College). Another double track trunk line extended north on Vermilion from Main to English, with a half-dozen single track branch lines extending north, east, and west from Vermilion:
- Roselawn on N. Vermilion north to Newell;
- W. English to Logan;
- Cemetery on E. English to Spring Hill Cemetery (special service only after 1905);
- Lincoln Park via Madison, Chandler, and W. Fairchild to Logan;
- E. Fairchild to the Fair Grounds;
- Junction via Williams then north on Junction St.
Interurban/suburban lines centered on Danville included an extension of the Douglas Park line, called the Highland line, to Grape Creek; a Vermilion Heights line, which followed the interurban Danville-Urbana main line west of Danville along Oakwood Ave. to Vermilion Heights; a line to Catlin; and one to Westville, Georgetown, and Ridge Farm. The Danville end of most of these lines was the ITS interurban station, initially on the southwest corner of the Square (called Reddin Square or Public Square) at the intersection of Main and Vermilion Streets. Later, the station was a little south of the Square, on S. Vermilion Street.
During the late 1920s and the 1930s, ridership followed trends typical of small city streetcar systems, i.e., trends downward. The system came under National City Lines control in 1936, and streetcar service ended December 4, 1936.
One of the outstanding photographers of Danville, Illinois streetcars was Charles Gammel. Some years ago, I had the pleasure of purchasing a number of prints of photographs from his collection. I don't know which of these were from his own camera, and which were acquired by him from other photographers. I offer them in this form for several reasons: to recognize Charles Gammel's contribution to the history of Danville streetcars; to assemble them into a rudimentary history of the Danville streetcar system; and to preserve them by spreading them among the railfan community. (The few photographs which came from other sources are credited as such, or are credited simply to the author's collection. I have also included images of a few picture postcards of the period, with credit to the publishers where known. All other photos are in my collection, and are traceable to the Gammel collection.)
Some of my comments about the several groups of cars are obviously conjectural. I invite those readers whose knowledge is greater than my own to contact me with any additional information, which I would hope to use in updating this album with improved data. My email address is immediately above; please note that "-at-" must be changed to an @ sign. (This is to reduce the amount of spam that assaults my mailbox.) My thanks in advance to anyone who can add to the knowledge displayed here.
An important source for the text of this album is a 1985 manuscript by James J. Buckley, provided to me by Stephen Scalzo, for which I am most grateful.
So please peruse the photographs here, with my hopes that you will enjoy the experience.
H. George Friedman, Jr.
Group 1: Horsecars
Group 2: Early Electric Cars
Group 3: 7-Window Closed Cars 1-14
Group 4: 6-Window Closed Cars 15-29
Group 5: 8-Window Closed Cars 33-34
Group 6: Open Cars 100-119 and Cars 120-126 (last updated March 9, 2016: added Picture 6-14.5)
Group 7: Double Truck Closed Cars 130-163 and 360-362
Group 8: Deck Roof Double Truck Closed Cars 600-Series
Group 9: Single Truck Closed Cars 700-710 and 103-108
Group 10: Arch Roof Double Truck Closed Cars 800-803
Group 11: Early ITS Interurban Cars 200-203
Group 12: Single Truck Birney Safety Cars 204-226
Group 13: Work Cars, Locomotives, and the Car Barn (last updated March 6, 2018: added Picture 13-2.2)
Group 14: Danville Street Scenes (last updated February 6, 2018: added Pictures 14-25.3 and 14-25.6)
Group 15: Soldiers' Home (last updated March 7, 2014: added Picture 15-4)
Group 15.5: Suburban Scenes (Group added December 12, 2017)
Group 16: Trolley Bridges in the Danville Area (last updated March 12, 2016: added Picture 16-11.5)
Group 17: People (Group added July 25, 2017)
Group 18: Tickets, Tokens, and Transfers (last updated April 19, 2014: added Picture 18-1)
Group 19: The Danville Car Co.
References, credits, and copyright notice
We begin with a track map of the Danville electric streetcar system at its height. Click on the map for a higher-resolution display. This comes from CERA Bulletin 99, The Smaller Electric Railways of Illinois, 1955. Used with permission.
Group 1: Horsecars.
James Buckley reports that the Citizens Street Railway Co. purchased bobtail horsecars numbers 1 to 5 in 1883 and numbers 6 and 7 in 1884 from a St. Louis builder. By 1890, the company was running ten cars.
Group 2: Early Electric Cars 1-11
Electricity replaced animal power in 1891. The next group of pictures shows some of the first order of electric streetcars. Cars numbered 2, 5, 7, 11, and either 6 or 8 are seen in these pictures. James Buckley states that cars 1 to 7 were acquired in 1891, and similar cars 8 to 11 in 1892, all from the St. Louis Car Co. These cars were equipped with Thomson-Houston motors and controls, and McGuire trucks. Buckley mentions that the old horsecars were used as trailers until 1896, but this author has no pictures of trailer operation in Danville. Note the ornate painting and lettering on these early streetcars. The route name is painted on the front dash of each car. Some of these cars may have been rebuilt and renumbered in the early 1900s; see Group 4.
|Three of the early electric cars are seen in this severely damaged photo, apparently in front of the car barn. We see car 2 at the left front, and in the doorway to the car house a car numbered either 6 or 8. The little crowd of men is probably made up of the company's work force of motormen, conductors, and perhaps supervisors. Note the wide variety of hats, not all of which look like hats usually worn by railroaders!|
|Pictures 2-2, 2-3, and 2-4.|
|The top picture is of car 5, somewhere downtown, around 1900. The middle photo shows car 7 on the Lincoln Park line. Notice the motorman, standing tall and proud at his controls, bundled in a heavy coat against the weather, with no cab around him to mitigate the cold. The bottom picture shows car 11 on the Soldiers Home and Vermilion Street line. This must be a summer photo, as the motorman has doffed his uniform coat in favor of a shirtsleeves-and-vest appearance.|
|Motorman Carey B. Hall poses with car 7 on the Douglas Park-Lincoln Park line in this 1903 photo. Lake View Hospital is in the background. The car has been changed a bit. Vestibule windows have been added above the front dash, giving the motorman some measure of protection against the cold winter. The route name is no longer painted on the car, but is displayed on a changeable sign on the vestibule roof, giving the system much more flexibility in car assignments. |
Carey Hall is an interesting individual. He started the Danville Transfer & Storage company. He ended his motorman career one day when he was unable to stop his car at the end of the Lincoln Park line at Logan Ave., and ran the car off the end of the track and over Waterworks Hill. Mike Roegner collection
Group 3: 7-Window Closed Cars 1-14
The next group of photos of cars 7, 9, 10, and 11 seem to show different streetcars than the first group, above, even though they include some of the same car numbers. But the original group of cars has six windows, while this group has seven. The other obvious difference is that the platforms of these cars are enclosed, offering the motormen and conductors protection from cold, heat, rain, and snow. Enclosure of the platforms could have been achieved by rebuilding of the original cars, but lengthening the car bodies from six to seven windows seems less likely. The picture of car 11, below, has a note attributing that car to the American Car Co. of St. Louis, with a delivery date of 1905. So this group was probably a replacement for some, if not all, of the original cars, using the same car numbers (or some of the same numbers) for the replacement streetcars. This group may have numbered as many as 14 cars.
|This picture features car 7. Note the lack of a front door. Passengers both entered and exited the car at the rear, and the conductor controlled access and collected fares. This configuration was typical of the small-town streetcars in central Illinois prior to about 1910.|
|Pictures 3-2, 3-3, and 3-4.|
|The top photo shows the two-man crew of car 9 on the Junction line; the motorman is holding one of the car's control handles, his badge of office as it were. There is a socket on the front dash for a headlight, which would have been installed only at night when it was needed. We can also see a coupler, used for towing a trailer or for pulling a disabled car back to the car barn. The second photo shows car 10 at Soldiers home, signed for the North Vermilion line. The motorman is on the left, the conductor on the right, the latter identifiable by the coin changer at his belt. The third picture is of car 11, probably at the car barn. This photo has been annotated 1905 American - Dec. 1910. The second date, December 1910, appears to be the date of the photo; 1905 appears to be the date the car was built by American Car Co. of St. Louis. This photo may have been taken immediately before the car was converted to the Pay As You Enter (P.A.Y.E.) system, which entailed installation of right front doors on both vestibules of the cars. Cars 9-11 were built for the Danville, Paxton & Northern, one of the component companies of the Illinois Traction System, originally as numbers 50-52. They were renumbered 9-11 when transferred to the Danville city lines. Paul Stringham (car 11)|
|Car 11 of this group, signed for the H-Soldiers Home line, in downtown Danville, looking north on Vermilion from Main Street. The dash sign, Please have exact fare ready, indicates that the P.A.Y.E. fare collection system is in effect, so there are probably four doors on this car, though unfortunately we cannot see them. Collection of the author|
Group 4: 6-Window Closed Cars 15-29
The next group of cars are numbered 15 through 29, and have six windows each. There could have been more cars of this type, with numbers possibly as high as 32. They were not necessarily all ordered from the same manufacturer or at the same time, though they show signs of being American Car Co. products of the 1900-1910 era. James Buckley notes that cars 3-9 were renumbered 23-29. These might have been the bodies (at least) of the original electric cars 3-9 from Group 2, rebuilt slightly to have enclosed platforms and other more modern (in 1900) specifications. Buckley also notes that 23 and 24 were sold to Illinois Valley Traction Co. in LaSalle in March 1902.
|Pictures 4-1, 4-2, and 4-3.|
|Three pictures of car 15. The top picture shows three crewmen, probably motorman, conductor, and a supervisor. In the middle photo, dated 1904, the car is signed for Junction, and the conductor (left) and motorman (right) are posing for the photographer. The bottom photo was probably taken by the company at the car barn in 1910, just before the car was converted for P.A.Y.E. service; similar photos at other ITS properties are known to have been taken at that time. Note the newly added fender.|
|Pictures 4-4 through 4-8.|
|Car 16 is signed Public Square. It is not clear whether the single crewman seen is operating the car alone (which seems unlikely, given its lack of a right front door), or whether he is the motorman or the conductor, or where his partner is at the moment. The two-man crew of car 19 pose with their car, which sports a sign bar across the first window forward of the rear vestibule, stating the route as N. Ver. St. & Soldiers Home. Car 25 shows a similar pose by the motorman (at left) and conductor, and a similar route sign marked Junction & Public Square. The photos of car 21 and 24 show us only a single crewman; the whereabouts of their partners, if they had one, are unknown. In the photo of car 24, we see a new kind of route sign, with a large single letter: Route P was the Douglas Park line.|
|Car 18 shows us what these cars looked like after conversion for P.A.Y.E., probably around 1910, with four-leaf doors on both sides of both vestibules. In this configuration, passengers entered at the rear and were encouraged to exit at the front, although one could exit either front or rear of the car.|
Group 5: 8-Window Closed Cars 33-34
Danville also had at least two similar cars having eight windows. Cars 33 and 34 are known, but the group could have included many more cars, as number 34 is the highest two-digit-numbered car known to this writer, and the eight-window series could have started with numbers as low as 30.
|Pictures 5-1 and 5-2.|
|Car 33 is on the Roselawn line. The motorman is on the vestibule step holding his control handles, and the conductor to our right. The route sign of car 34 is half-way between Oaklawn and Roselawn, with only a single crewman in sight. Note how the window sashes lower into pockets in the car sides.|
Group 6: Open Cars 100-119 and Cars 120-126
Danville owned and operated at least 17 open summer cars. Buckley notes that there were three batches:
- 10 cars, 101-119 (odd numbers only), 1901, 8 benches, built by Brownell Car. Co. of St. Louis.
- 7 cars second hand from United Rys. of St. Louis, 12 benches, built for St. Louis Transit Co. in 1902 by St. Louis Car Co., job number 244. They were originally numbered in the 600s. (Champaign-Urbana had some cars from this group, which they operated with the St. Louis 600-series numbers.) Ten of this group were purchased from United Rys., but three of them, cars 606, 607, and 609, were rebuilt by Danville Car Co. as closed cars (see Group 8). The other seven were renumbered 100-112 (even numbers only). At least two, cars 104 and 110, were rebuilt as double-truck cars.
- There were also a few small, six-bench open cars, apparently given odd numbers in the 120s; the only number known is 123. No photos of these cars are known to this author.
At some point in time, some of these cars perhaps all were rebuilt to have closed sides. The pictures reveal their ancestry as truly open cars because they had pull-down curtains on the windows, rather than glazed sashes. In this form, passengers entered and exited at the ends of the cars, just as for closed cars, so those cars which did not already have an aisle must have acquired one in this rebuild.
For fully closed cars numbered 103-108, see Group 9.
James Buckley reports that in 1905, three 1891 single truck closed cars were purchased second hand from Twin Cities Rapid Transit Co. of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. The three cars were:
- Minneapolis St. Ry. Co. 383, builder LaClede Car Co., 1891;
- Minneapolis St. Ry. Co. 474, builder J. M. Jones' Sons, 1891;
- St. Paul City Ry. Co. 354, builder LaClede Car Co., 1891.
|Pictures 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, and 6-4.|
|Three of the second-hand St. Louis 12-bench open cars, 102, 104, and 110. Each of these three is slightly different. Car 102 runs on a single four-wheel truck, while the other two run on double trucks, i.e., they each have a pair of four-wheel trucks. Cars 102 and 104 are actually 12-bench cars, if one counts the bench on each platform, while 110 has much smaller platforms with no benches, so has merely 10 benches. Since all three were built in one batch for St. Louis Transit Co., it is unclear why the platforms are not all the same. One can clearly see the absence of an aisle for moving between seats on these cars. The top picture, from a picture postcard, was taken at the Soldiers Home shelter stop.|
|Pictures 6-5, 6-6, and 6-7.|
|Eight-bench open cars 103 and 105. The top picture features 103 on the Roselawn line, with its motorman standing proudly at the controls: left hand on the controller, right on the hand brake. In the middle photo, we see the same car, signed N. Vermilion, at the station at Soldiers Home. The third picture shows car 105 and its motorman, signed Junction. We can clearly see that there are no seats on the platforms of these cars, but it's hard to tell whether there is an aisle between seats.|
|Pictures 6-8, 6-9, 6-10, and 6-11.|
|Open cars 107 and 113 in service on the streets of Danville. The pictures on the right are closeup details from those on the left. Car 107 (above) is moving toward the camera, signed Soldiers Home, and 113 (below) is moving away from the camera, marked Cemetery. We can count the number of benches (8), but few other details can be made out.|
|Pictures 6-12, 6-13, and 6-14.|
|Three more 8-bench open cars, all pictured at Soldiers Home. The top picture features an anonymous car, number 10-something, posing with its two-man crew. The second picture is of car 109, with its crew in front and a few passengers getting comfortable at the rear of the car. The third features car 111, with the crew standing on the running board, and the seats filled with Old Soldiers heading into town.|
|Eight-bench open car 117 is facing north at the Soldiers Home station awaiting its next departure time toward downtown Danville. Collection of the author|
|Pictures 6-15 and 6-16.|
|These two photos demonstrate that at least some of the 8-bench open cars had aisles. The photo of car 117 on the Douglas Park line shows a doorway from the front platform opening into the car body. The picture of car 119 shows seats which extend only part way across the width of the car, leaving room for the aisle.|
|Pictures 6-17, 6-18, 6-19, and 6-20.|
|Cars 101 and 103 after being rebuilt with closed sides. Instead of glass covering the windows, we see that there are shades which can be adjusted, even closed in the event of rain. Car 101 appears to be at the car barn. The first view of 103 seems to be out in the country somewhere, probably at the outer terminal of one of the lines, but we cannot read its route sign. In the second picture of 103, it is signed Oaklawn. The bottom photo, showing 103 head-on, displays its newer large-letter route sign, showing R for the Roselawn line.|
|Pictures 6-21 through 6-26.|
|Six similar views of the rebuilt 8-bench (now 8-window) open cars. The top pair of photos features cars 107 and 111 on the Oaklawn line. The middle pair shows car 113, also on the Oaklawn line. At the bottom, we see cars 115 and 117 on the Lincoln Park line. |
No photos are known of the even numbered ex-St. Louis cars rebuilt with closed sides.
Group 7: Double Truck Closed Cars 130-163 and 360-362
Double-truck closed cars appeared in Danville early in the 1900s. They were numbered beginning with 130 and into the 160s. There were several subgroups of these cars. They were acquired in small batches of two to six cars each.
Beginning about 1901, William B. McKinley was organizing what became the Illinois Traction System of interurban lines (later the Illinois Terminal), and Danville was the nucleus of the infant system. The earliest cars on the interurban, operating between Danville and the nearby towns, and between Danville and Urbana, came from the 130 group of Danville city cars. Cars 130, 134, 135, 136, and 137 are known in interurban service.
Several double truck cars and some open cars were lost in a car barn paint shop fire on December 19, 1918.
|The lowest numbered double-truck closed cars were cars 130 and 131, which Buckley reports were built in the company shops in 1904. This is the only photo of either car known to this author; it is a detail closeup from a larger photo. Car 130 is at the head of a work train building the Ogden-Homer branch line of the ITS in 1904. Collection of the author|
|Pictures 7-1 through 7-5.|
|Cars 132 and 133 were built by the American Car Co. of St. Louis, a Brill Co. subsidiary, on order number 606, September 21, 1905. Buckley says that they were originally ordered for the Jacksonville, Illinois system, but were diverted to Danville; they never ran in Jacksonville. The top photo is the builder's photo of car 133. The next picture shows car 132, probably early in its career, with no route sign. The third and fourth photos show 132 and 133, with route signs in the front curb-side windows; the 132 is showing a Junction sign, but the sign on 133 is not readable. The bottom picture features car 132 downtown at the Square, in front of the Court House.|
|Pictures 7-6 and 7-7.|
|Here are cars 132 (above) and 133 (below) with large-letter route signs installed on the roof. Both cars are on the P Parks line.|
|Pictures 7-8 and 7-9.|
|These are later pictures of 132 (above) and 133 and 134 (below), taken at the car barn after the cars had been repainted orange, which shows up very dark on early black-and-white film. Some time earlier, the cars had been rebuilt with straight sides. |
In 1928, these three cars were transferred to Peoria.
|Pictures 7-10, 7-10.3, 7-10.6, and 7-11.|
|The top photo shows car 134 in interurban service on the ITS Ogden-Homer branch line, at the unique Homer station. The second picture shows a car, probably 134, crossing the Salt Fork bridge at Homer Park on its way between Ogden and Homer. Homer Park, about halfway along the Ogden-Homer line, was an important generator of recreational traffic for the ITS. The third and fourth pictures show the car later, in Danville city service. Note the route signs. In interurban service to Homer, it needed no route sign. In the third photo, on Vermilion Street just north of Main, we see it with a typical roof-mounted roll sign; unfortunately, it is placed between two names, and we cannot read it. Note the number of streetcars in this picture: there are at least five in the space of two or three blocks. In the bottom photo, at the Soldiers Home terminal loop, it has acquired a large letter sign, here an H for the Soldiers Home line. Champaign County Historical Society Collection (second photo)|
Cars 134 and 135 were built by the Stephenson Car Co. in 1902, about two years before the Stephenson Co. was acquired by the Brill Co. Pressed into interurban service for the infant Illinois Traction System, these two cars probably ran as far west as Urbana and Champaign before being assigned to branch line service and, eventually, to the Danville city lines.
Car 135 was destroyed in the paint shop fire of December 1918. 134 went to Peoria in 1928.
|Pictures 7-12 and 7-13.|
|Cars 136 and 137 were obtained in 1903 from the American Car Co. of St. Louis. They were true interurban cars, rather than long city cars; note the railroad roof and the baggage compartment. These two cars were 12 feet longer than 134 and 135. They were initially assigned to the Limited runs between Danville and Champaign. The top picture shows 136 at the station stop in St. Joseph, Illinois. The second picture shows the new 137 in 1904 or 1905 awaiting departure in Danville. Note The Limited sign across the first side window of the car, similar to the route signs used on the city lines at that time (see car 19 in Picture 4-5 and car 25 in Picture 4-6). C. E. Armstrong, R. E. Bowser, & M. L. Carr, Interurban Car Tests on the Illinois Traction System, University of Illinois thesis, 1905 (car 137)|
|[No picture available.]||On January 18, 1901, St. Louis Car Co. delivered 40 double-truck 34-foot cars, numbers 172-211, on order 162 to the Lehigh Valley Traction Co. of Pennsylvania. On September 30, 1903 cars 189 and 194 were sold to Danville and became cars 138 and 139. It is unclear whether the cars were initially used in Danville city service, ITS suburban service to nearby towns, or ITS interurban service to Urbana and Champaign. If they were initially used for ITS service, they must have eventually been assigned to city service, as they were still in use when the Danville streetcar system was operated by Illinois Power & Light Co.|
|Cars 140-142 were originally part of a large order of cars built by the St. Louis Car Co. for the Third Avenue Ry. of New York. These cars were resold in small lots to other companies all over the country. According to Buckley, these three, originally numbered 200-202, came to the ITS in June 1902, and were assigned to Danville city service before 1914; they were retired before 1920. This picture shows car 140 with its original door configuration and very worn paint. It has couplers, probably to provide for it to tow or be towed when necessary.|
|Pictures 7-15, 7-16, and 7-17.|
|James Buckley says that cars 143-146 were acquired by the ITS second hand in 1901 from the Metropolitan Ry. Co. of Washington, DC. They were assigned to Danville city service in June 1914. The first two pictures depict car 143 in similar configuration to car 140 (above). However, it has only a single trolley pole, which means that no matter what the weather, the motorman had to exit the car and walk the pole around to the other end of the car when turning back. Note the large, removable headlight in the first picture. In the second picture, the car is signed for the Soldiers Home line. The car now has a smaller, permanently mounted headlight. |
We see the same car 143 in the third picture, after it had been converted to P.A.Y.E. service. Now it has two sets of doors on each platform; passengers boarded at the rear and paid their fare, then could exit at the front, without having to push through the passengers boarding at the rear. Safety screens have been added to the side windows. The car has a new route sign at the right front corner; the large letter H denotes the Soldiers Home line. But it still has only a single trolley pole. Note the advertising sign on the car roof behind the letter H route sign. This was typical of the city systems operated by the ITS.
|Pictures 7-18, 7-19, and 7-20.|
|These three photos all show car 144 at various stages of its career. In the first, there are no window screens. This is probably the original configuration of this car. The second picture shows us a similar configuration, but window screens have been added to the car. Both of these were taken at the Soldiers Home stop. The route sign reads West English. In the bottom photo, car 144 has been equipped with a single-letter route sign, and is signed H for Soldiers Home. Note how the center window on the platform slides to the side to open. We can't see the rear platform in any of these three photos.|
|We see car 145 signed for the Soldiers Home line. The door configuration is the original, but screens have been added to the side windows. The motorman is leaning on the window where a door would eventually be cut through; the conductor is standing on the step to the rear door.|
|Pictures 7-22, 7-23, 7-24, and 7-25.|
|The two top photos here display car 146. The lower pair of photos show two cars in the 140-series, but we cannot make out the complete car number. All were taken after the large letter route signs had been added to the car, and in the second and fourth photos, we see window screens and front doors. All are signed H for the Soldiers Home line, and the top picture was taken at the Soldiers Home loop. |
Car 146 was transferred to Peoria in 1928.
|Pictures 7-26, 7-27, and 7-28.|
|Buckley reports that the ITS acquired cars 147-152 second hand from East St. Louis in March 1904, but that only cars 147, 150, and 152 saw city service in Danville. All were retired by 1926. The top photo here shows car 149, and the second shows car 150. The third photo shows a side view of a car of this type, but we cannot make out a number. Note the arrangement of the side windows in groups of four, five, and four. These were probably the longest city cars to run in Danville. Collection of the author (car 149)|
|Pictures 7-29, 7-30, 7-31, and 7-32.|
|In March 1918, Danville acquired four 10-window double truck cars, numbers 160-163, from St. Louis Car Co., job number 1154. The top photo of this group appears to be the builder's photo of car 163 on a flat car ready for shipment to Danville. The next picture shows car 160. The other two photos feature car 162 on the E. Fairchild line. Note the dash sign Pay After Entering. There are signboards on the ends of the cars and in the center of the side windows proclaiming that they connect to the Depots / C&EI Big 4. The bottom view appears to be at the car barn. |
Buckley reports that as of May 31, 1928, the only double truck cars in Danville city service were 160-163 and the three 600s.
In 1933, car 161 was destroyed. Subsequently, 163 was renumbered 161.
|Pictures 7-33 and 7-34.|
|Two later views of car 160, after it had been painted orange, probably in the early 1920s. The top photo shows the car around 1930 in front of the Vermilion County Court House on E. Main St., on the E. Fairchild & Douglas Park Line; the operator is Ray Combs. The second picture was taken at the end of the E. Fairchild line, probably in the 1920s. Marker lights have been added above the center window in the car ends.|
|Car 160 in orange in downtown Danville, on the F East Fairchild line. Instead of a large letter on the corner of the car roof, there is a similar large letter denoting the route on the curb side of the front dash, with a light mounted above it for night visibility. Note the early traffic light behind the streetcar.|
|Pictures 7-36, 7-37, 7-38, and 7-39.|
|About 1933, cars 160-162 were renumbered 360-362. In 1934, cars 360-362 were transferred to Peoria and renumbered there 365-367, in sequence with Peoria cars 350-364, which were essentially identical. These four photos of cars 360 and 361 were taken by George Krambles on November 7, 1933. Courtesy Krambles-Peterson Archive|
Group 8: Deck Roof Double Truck Closed Cars 600-Series
Of the second-hand open cars purchased from United Rys. of St. Louis (see Group 6), three were rebuilt by Danville Car Co. into double-truck closed cars, and were run in Danville with their original St. Louis numbers: 606, 607, and 609. They were built with no right-front doors, but at some point (probably around 1910) were rebuilt to add those doors for P.A.Y.E. operation.
Group 9: Single Truck Closed Cars 700-710 and 103-108
In 1908, the Illinois Traction System received an order of single truck cars from the hometown Danville Car Co., cars 700-709. Car 700 was eventually renumbered 710. These were distributed among the several ITS city systems. Cars numbered 700, 708, 709, and 710 are known to have operated in Danville. Cars 701, 702, 704, and 707 are known in Urbana-Champaign. 702 and 703 are known in Bloomington-Normal. 704, 706, and 707 are known in Decatur. This list is obviously incomplete. Cars must have occasionally moved between cities.
In 1920, six single truck cars from Quincy, Illinois were transferred to Danville, numbers 103-108. They were also products of the Danville Car Co., built in 1910. Buckley describes them as being similar to the 700s.
|Pictures 9-1, 9-2, and 9-3.|
|These photos of car 700 show its evolution over the years. The first two show the car in its original configuration, without right front doors. In the second picture, we see the addition of roof-mounted advertising signs at the right front of the car, similar to signs added to streetcars in other ITS cities. The third photo shows the addition of right front doors after conversion to P.A.Y.E. In that photo, the car has acquired a large-letter route sign on the roof; this one is an F for the E. Fairchild line. Note the frosted glass carrying the car number in the left front window of the vestibule.|
|Pictures 9-4, 9-5, and 9-6.|
|The top picture features car 708 downtown, in its original configuration (no right front door). It is signed for the E. Fairchild line. In the second photo, car 709 is seen with the large letter route sign, this time marked for the R Roselawn line. It is on Main Street, approaching to turn into Vermilion. The third photo shows car 710 after rebuilding with right front doors; it is signed for H Soldiers Home. Collection of the author (car 709)|
|Car 106 on the H Soldiers Home line, painted in the later orange livery. Compare to car 710 in Picture 9-6.|
Group 10: Arch Roof Double Truck Closed Cars 800-803
In 1913, Decatur Power & Light Co. took delivery of four 10 window arch roof, double truck cars numbered 800-803, built by St. Louis Car Co. as order number 1018. About 1932, the four cars were transferred to Danville. But in 1933, the 800s went back to Decatur, and eight Birney cars were sent from Decatur to Danville in their place (see Group 12).
|Pictures 10-1, 10-2, and 10-3.|
|The top picture shows car 801, probably as delivered from Decatur. The second photo gives a good view of the front end of this type of car, after it had been painted orange. There are two route signs: a standard roll sign above the right front window, and a large letter denoting the route below that window, with a light mounted above the sign for night visibility. The car is signed for H Soldiers Home. The third photo shows car 800 in orange signed for F East Fairchild. Decatur Herald Review (top)|
Group 11: Early ITS Interurban Cars 200-203
In 1904, Danville ordered four 34 foot interurban cars for the infant Illinois Traction System from the St. Louis Car Co. Cars 200-203 ran at first on the Danville to Champaign main line, but they were soon displaced by larger cars, and were then relegated to service on branch lines.
|Pictures 11-1, 11-2, and 11-3.|
|Car 203 of this group spent much of its life on the Ogden-Homer branch line. In the top picture, it is laying over on its siding at the Ogden depot, awaiting main line trains and transferring passengers bound for Homer Park or the town of Homer. The second photo shows the car pulling into the Homer Depot. In the third picture, it is beginning a trip north from downtown Homer to Ogden. Collection of the author|
Group 12: Single Truck Birney Safety Cars 204-226
In 1922, Danville began replacing its older streetcars with lighter, more economical one-man cars designed by Charles O. Birney. Birney Safety cars were in use from the middle 'teens in small and large streetcar systems, but their primary success was in making viable small systems in which the economy of operation was crucial. Not only did the lighter cars consume much less power than the older, heavier cars, but the single-operator design cut manpower costs in half by dropping conductors from the roster. The term Safety Car denotes that the car controls were designed for safe operation by one man; for example, air brakes and air-operated doors, and a dead-man feature on the power control handle.
Danville placed an initial order for sixteen Birney cars with the American Car Co. of St. Louis in 1922, order number 1321. These became cars 204-219 (apparently numbered in sequence to the 200-203 series interurban cars). Car 217 of this group was hit by a train in 1931, and scrapped. In 1933, Decatur cars 100-107 were transferred to Danville. These had been acquired by Decatur in 1919 from American Car Co., order number 1197. One of the transferred cars was given the number 217 to replace the destroyed original 217; the others became Danville 220-226. All were scrapped when Danville streetcar service ended in 1936.
Group 13: Work Cars, Locomotives, and the Car Barn
The car barn for the Danville city system, also used by the ITS interurbans, was located just east of S. Vermilion Street, a few blocks south of Reddin Square, just north of the Wabash Railroad crossing of the Vermilion River.
|The Danville car barn, probably some time in the 1920s, after Illinois Power & Light became the operator of the city system (note the IP&L logo on the wall above the line of windows). The only car individually identifiable is number 10, the lead car next to the outer wall of the building. Of the five cars peeking out of doors of the car barn, the second from the left is a main-line interurban, and the next two are probably in suburban service. All the rest are city streetcars. Stephen Scalzo Collection|
|This picture of the Danville car barn gives us glimpses of several different types of streetcars and interurbans. At the far left, with shopmen draped all over it, is ITS locomotive 1559, a Class A steeple-cab locomotive built in March 1907 by Alco-GE and originally numbered 102. There is a streetcar behind the 1559, and in the six doors of the car barn, we can see three more streetcars, another Class A or Class O locomotive, and an interurban or suburban car.|
|ITS-built class B locomotive 1573 peeks out of the doorway of the car barn in this December 1, 1951 photo. collection of the author|
|Class B interurban locomotive 1572 is pulling a coach trailer car, with the Danville car barn in the background, visible behind the coach.|
|Two Class A or Class O locomotives, probably at the Danville power house, and probably used to move cars of coal and ash to and from the power plant. The nearer locomotive is number 1557, but the picture is not dated, and three different Class A and Class O locomotives bore this number at different times.|
|Every system needs a line car for maintenance of the overhead trolley wire system. The ITS had several, assigned to different properties from time to time. Here is line car 1506. Built in the Danville shops in 1906 as a pull motor, it was rebuilt as a line car in March 1922. In August 1925, it was renumbered 1701, giving us a 1922-1925 date for this picture. As 1701, it served the interurban system until 1953. The man lying under the car is breaking all kinds of safety rules and being quite reckless, especially considering that the trolley pole is on the wire.|
|This is the headlight car, around 1910. Its job was to carry nighttime headlights to cars active on the system. A few headlights can be seen on the far platform of the car. In the early days of electric streetcars, headlights were not permanently mounted on the cars. When they were needed, they were mounted on a bracket on the dash, and plugged into a socket next to the mount. By loading a pile of headlights on the extra-large platforms of this car and driving it around the system at dusk, they could avoid requiring passenger cars to detour to the car barn to obtain headlights. The little car appears to have been built from an old horsecar body. Its five windows make it even shorter than the original order of electric cars, which had six. The car has a trolley pole, but the motorman's controls are not mounted on the platform of the car; they must be mounted inside the car body, a very unusual arrangement. (The windows are not broken; what looks like it might be broken glass comes from reflections.)|
|Here is utility work car 10, which started life as a passenger car of the same number. It was probably used for a variety of jobs, such as towing disabled cars, moving material around the city, and perhaps sanding rails during bad weather.|
[No picture available.]
|James Buckley reports that open car 113 was also converted to utility work car service; no date is known.|
|Snowy winter weather called for use of snow sweeper number 1, a product of the McGuire-Cummings factory.|
Group 14: Danville Street Scenes
Picture postcards featuring street scenes which included the streetcars were popular in Danville, as in other cities and towns. Here is a sprinkling of the available postcard photography, with some photos from the Charles Gammel collection included.
The center of downtown Danville was Reddin Square, also called Public Square, the extra-wide intersection of Vermilion and Main Streets. Here all the major streetcar lines met, and the double-track main line turned from E. Main Street to N. Vermilion. The first interurban station was at the southwest corner of the Square, and its later replacement was one block south of it. The courthouse was (and is) on the northeast corner. Many of the postcard street scenes featuring Danville streetcars and interurban cars were taken at or near the Square. (Curiously enough, tracks going straight through the intersection were never installed. Any car coming up to the Square had to turn, one direction or the other.)
Today, the corner of Vermilion and Main Streets looks quite different from the historic views seen here. The only building remaining at this intersection is the courthouse; all the others have been removed and replaced either by new buildings or, on the southeast corner, by a large parking lot. The Square itself has been modified into a very ordinary intersection, with a bit of parking in front of the buildings on the north side, which the historically minded will recognize as the remnants of the Square.
|Pictures 14-1 through 14-7.|
|This composite picture postcard shows six tiny scenes in downtown Danville. Starting with the center picture, then proceeding clockwise from lower left, we have: Southwest Corner of Public Square (where the first interurban station would shortly be located), Masonic Temple, City Hall, Northeast Corner of Public Square, North Vermilion Street, and East Main Street. The message on the card, and the postmark, are dated Aug. 31, 1905. Perhaps the most notable among the scenes shown, despite its small size, is the center view, which features one of the first type of electric streetcars (see Group 2), and is probably older than the other scenes. None of the other streetcars is identifiable, although several appear to be open cars.|
|This scene looks slightly east of north across the Square and up North Vermilion Street. It is not dated or postmarked, but appears to be an early view, before the second track was added to North Vermilion and East Main Streets. Indiana News Co.|
|Pictures 14-8 and 14-9.|
|In the top picture, we are looking west down W. Main Street from Reddin Square as a streetcar approaches, probably to turn to its left (our right) into N. Vermilion Street. The lower picture features a streetcar heading west, away from the camera, from about the same location. To our left is the Plaza Hotel, and to the right the Stern store, both landmarks useful for identifying scenes around the Square. S. C. Kropf Co. (top)|
|Turning slightly to the left from our last view, we have this scene of the original ITS interurban station at the left, and the Plaza Hotel at the right. Three double-truck cars are standing in front of the station, loading passengers for suburban or interurban runs that will depart shortly. A little open streetcar has paused on the curve from W. Main into S. Vermilion Street, probably waiting for the chance to get past the front of the station after the big cars have moved on. The open car may be on its way back to the car barn, south of this point; no city car line used this stretch of track.|
|Pictures 14-11, 14-12, and 14-12.5.|
|Three views of the ITS station at the southwest corner of Reddin Square. In the first two of these views, the streetcars nearest the camera are double-truck city cars, probably holding down suburban runs. In the top picture, a man in railroad uniform, probably a conductor, is reaching up to assist a passenger in or out of the car. In the second photo, the nearest car is 133, and in the distance, one of the big arch-window ITS interurbans either has just started on its way to Urbana, or is parked for a later departure. S. H. Knox Co. (middle)|
|Pictures 14-13, 14-14, and 14-15.|
|Looking to the east, we jump to the 1920s for the top picture of this set. A 160-series car is approaching the curve that will take it from E. Main Street into N. Vermilion Street. We see part of the courthouse at the left. The middle picture is looking in the opposite direction as an eastbound streetcar begins its run along E. Main Street from the Square. A blurred streetcar can be seen behind it just clearing (or just entering) the intersection. The bottom picture, from a card postmarked 1911, is taken from about two blocks east of the Square, looking back to the west. Note the Stern sign atop a building at the right, which is located at the northwest corner of the Square. Another landmark is the building with a conical roof, on the other side of the street, visible in the top and bottom pictures. Woodbury Book Co. (top), C. U. Williams Photoette (bottom)|
|Pictures 14-16, 14-17, 14-18, and 14-19.|
|And now, turning north to look up N. Vermilion Street from Reddin Square, here are four views. The Stern building is at the left, the courthouse to the right. The top picture is postmarked 1907. The rest are undated; the middle two are most likely not later than about 1910, and the bottom picture is probably from the 1920s. We get a few glimpses of the complicated overhead wiring above the curves at this intersection. In the earlier pictures, note the lack of almost any traffic other than the streetcars. S. C. Kropf Co. (top)|
|A 160-series car turns from N. Vermilion into E. Main Street in this view looking southeast, with the courthouse at the left. DN-0082386, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum, Library of Congress|
|This view looks south past the oncoming streetcar, from the Lyric Theater at the right toward the Square in the distance. From the shadows, it appears to be an early morning scene. It is postmarked 1913. E. C. Kropp|
|This is another view of the Masonic Temple. The streetcar may be one of the open cars after enclosure of the sides. This card was used in August 1909. C. U. Williams Photoette|
|A streetcar waits at a railroad crossing. There is a wire mesh visible along the trolley wire at the crossing. This was to catch the trolley pole if it should come off the wire while the streetcar was crossing, thus preventing loss of power and a possible collision with a steam train. A man can be seen in silhouette in the control tower; he would have control of the crossing and perhaps the track switches along the steam railroad. Note the complicated signal tower facing down the steam railroad tracks.|
After the end of Danville streetcar service on December 4, 1936, the tracks used by the Illinois Terminal (IT, formerly the ITS) interurban cars remained in service to the IT depot on S. Vermilion Street, as well as the tracks westward to Urbana. IT service to Danville, and these last tracks, were abandoned April 26, 1952. Following are a few scenes from the 1950s, most taken by Charles Able.
|Pictures 14-23, 14-24, and 14-25.|
|Three views of the scene in front of the interurban depot on S. Vermilion Street. At the top, we see IT motor car 284 pulling trailer 517 on January 3, 1952. It has arrived as eastbound train 60, and will shortly depart westbound as train 63. The middle photo, taken March 31, 1952, is of car 285. Those two photos are looking toward the west side of the street. The depot is the building at the left, with the sign Illinois Power Co. The bottom picture is looking toward the east side of the street at car 284 on December 10, 1950. Charles Able photographs|
|Pictures 14-25.3 and 14-25.6.|
|IT locomotives also plied the rails in downtown Danville, both with and without trains of freight cars. Here are two locomotives by themselves. Imagine driving your car and sharing the street with one of these behemoths! |
The top picture features class B loco 1573 on S. Vermilion St., December 1, 1951. According to the notes of the original photographer, who is unknown to us, the loco is slowly backing up toward the IT depot meaning that the motorman is operating away from the photographer, with the front pole up not the usual procedure! (Why didn't he just switch poles? It would have been safer, and he could have run faster.) The lower photo shows class C locomotive 1583 on W. Main St., probably around 1950, judging by the automobiles in the picture. Notice the well-maintained brick street. collection of the author
|Pictures 14-26 and 14-27.|
|IT car 285 as train 60 after crossing the CCC&StL, eastbound on Oakwood Avenue, March 31, 1951. Note the semaphore for westbound movement over the interlocked crossing. The lower photo was taken near Fourth Street. Charles Able photographs|
|IT car 285 is again running eastbound as train 60, May 19, 1951, in this view taken from the highway bridge at the west limits of Danville. Charles Able photograph|
|Toward the end of Danville service on the IT in 1952, the Louisville Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) chartered motor 277 and trailer 532 for a St. Louis to Danville farewell trip. Here we see the train making its way west from Danville, probably near Hillery. The railroad at the left is the Peoria & Eastern, part of the CCC&StL (the Big Four), part of the New York Central System. The small square signs on the dash of car 277 read:|
Group 15: Soldiers' Home
The Soldiers' Home provided the eastern terminal for the main line of the Danville streetcar system.
|The entrance to the grounds, from East Main Street.|
|Pictures 15-2 and 15-3.|
|The streetcar depot, with the store and restaurant behind it. The streetcar line had double tracks from E. Main Street; the track encircled the depot building, with cars passing around it clockwise.|
|Pictures 15-4, 15-4.2, 15-4.4, and 15-4.6.|
|Four general views of the grounds and buildings. The top two views feature the Headquarters building; judging by the foliage in front of it, the second view shows it at a later date. The third and fourth pictures look northward. Owens Bros., Hillson Co. (top)|
|We aren't sure what this building was. One correspondent suggests that it might have been the nurses' quarters. If you know what this building was, please notify the author.|
|Looking across the grounds toward housing for officers.|
|Pictures 15-7, 15-8, and 15-9.|
|The mess hall. The middle picture depicts the dining room, and the bottom photo is of the kitchen. Indiana News Co. (dining room), S. H. Knox & Co. (kitchen)|
|Pictures 15-10 and 15-11.|
|The upper view looks toward the opera house and the chapel. The lower view gives us a closer look at the chapel. S. H. Knox (upper)|
|The hospital. C. U. Williams|
|The quartermaster's storehouse building. C. U. Williams|
Group 15.5: Suburban Scenes
These are some postcard views of scenes along the suburban/interurban lines in the Danville area. One line ran southwest to Catlin, another south to Westville, Georgetown, and Ridge Farm.
|ITS cars 300-309, such as 307 seen here in Catlin, were 1907 products of the St. Louis Car Co. They were usually assigned to suburban runs such as Danville to Catlin.|
|Pictures 15.5-2, 15.5-3, and 15.5-4.|
|This is the unique ITS station in Georgetown, built in the middle of the town square at the intersection of Main and West Streets. It featured passenger and freight rooms left and right of the main arch, and a bandstand above. The upper picture is older, with service provided by a Danville city car. The middle picture is later, with suburban car 302 holding down the run. The bottom picture, undated, is looking south from about a block away.|
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