The Street Railways of
Urbana and Champaign, Illinois

Chapter 14

Rolling Stock

H. George Friedman, Jr.

Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2014 H. George Friedman, Jr.  All rights reserved.
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This chapter has four parts:
     Part A.  City Cars (immediately below)
     Part B.  Early ITS Cars
     Part C.  K&UT Cars
     Part D.  University of Illinois Test Car

A.  City Cars


Compiled by James J. Buckley and H. George Friedman, Jr.  Research into the J. G. Brill Co. records by Harold E. Cox is gratefully acknowledged.

Car # Type Built Builder (Order No.) Truck (Order No.) Notes Pictures
Passenger cars:
10-11 ST Closed Motor 1890 Brownell Brill 7 (#3071) 16', 7 window 14A-1, 14A-2, 14A-3, 14A-33
12 ST Open Motor 1891 Brownell Brill 7 (#3071) 20', 8 bench 14A-4, 14A-5
13-14 ST Closed Motor 1891 Brownell Brill 7 (#3421) 16', 8 window 14A-6
15 ST Open Motor 1891 Brownell Brill 7 (#3421) 20', 8 bench  
16-17 ST Closed Motor 1892 LaClede (#294) Brill 13 or McGuire 20', 7 window 14A-7, 14A-7.5
18-20 ST Closed Trailer 1893 Brownell Brill 21E? 16'  
21-23 ST Open Trailer 1893       14A-33
24 ST Open Trailer 1894     ex horsecar? 14A-7.8, 14A-11, 14A-12
25 ST Closed Motor   American?   8 window 14A-8
26 ST Closed Motor   American?      
27 ST Closed Motor   American?   7 window 14A-8.5
28-29 ST Open Motor   Brownell?   8 bench 14A-9, 14A-10, 14A-11, 14A-12
30 ST Closed Motor          
31-32 ST Closed Motor 1900 Brill (#10153) Brill 21E 7 window 14A-13
33-38 ST Closed Motor   American? Brill 21E 8 window 14A-14, 14A-34, 14A-35
39-41 ST Closed Motor 1905 American (#575) Brill 21E 32', 8 window 14A-15, 14A-16, 14A-17
42-43 ST Closed Motor 1905-06 American? Brill 21E 31', 7 window 14A-17.5, 14A-35, 14A-36
44 ST Closed Motor 1906 American? Brill 21E 32'  
45-47 ST Closed Motor 1909 Danville (#521) Brill 21E 33', 8 window 14A-18 through 14A-21, 14A-34
48 ST Closed Motor     Brill 21E 32'  
49 This number may have been unused.
50-51 ST Open Motor 1902 Stephenson   10 bench 14A-22, 14A-23
52-59 These numbers were probably not used.
60-62 DT Closed Motor 1912 St. Louis (#953) St. L. 99B 41', 10 window 14A-24, 14A-24.5, 14A-25, 14A-25.5
101-106 ST Birney 1920 American (#1238) Brill 79E1 27'8"  
107-115 ST Birney 1922 American (#1315) Brill 79E1 28' 14A-29
116-120 ST Birney 1924 American (#1390) Brill 79E1 27'8" 14A-30, 14A-31
600s ST Open Motors 1902 St. Louis (#244) DuPont 46 35', 12 bench 14A-26
700s ST Closed Motors 1908 Danville   33' 14A-27, 14A-28
Work cars:
1 ST Line car       4 window 14A-32, 14A-32.5, 14A-34
2 Horse drawn tower wagon         14A-33
5 ST Sand/coal         14A-6
100 ST Sweeper 1917 McGuire-Cummings McGuire 28'  
200 ST Work     Brill 21E 33'  
205-206 Side Dump Coal Trailers     St. Louis 32'  
207 DT Cab on Flat 1902 Co. shops Peckham   14A-35

Notes: Body lengths quoted for #10-38 are without platforms.  Beginning with #39, platforms are included in the length.

#2: Tower wagon #2 was authorized by the Champaign city council on May 28, 1901.  But it is known in a photograph that seems to be from the 1890s.

#10-15: Westinghouse 3 SRG motors on Brill 7 trucks.  Brill truck order #3071 was for three trucks; truck order #3421 was for one more.  These four trucks appear to have been used on closed cars 10, 11, 13, and 14 in winter, with two trucks moved to open cars 12 and 15 in the summer.

#16-17: One report says McGuire trucks.  But two Brill 13 trucks were ordered April 12, 1892, and must have been for these two cars.

#25-27: 2nd hand from Cleveland, 1896.  These cars were similar to one another, but not identical.

#33-38: 2nd hand from Cleveland, 1/1900.

#41: Later had St. Louis 46 truck.

#42: Converted to line car (also see photo in Trolley Sparks for November 1954, CERA Bulletin 98, page 68).

#60-62: Sold 1/1925 to Chicago Ottawa & Peoria #108-110 for LaSalle-Peru.

#101-120: The order numbers shown for the Champaign-Urbana Birney cars are those given by Harold Cox in The Birney Car.  Those records indicate that order #1238 was originally for Decatur, but was diverted to Champaign-Urbana, and that the order was completed in May 1920.  According to news stories in the Urbana Courier of May 27, 1920 and the Champaign News-Gazette of May 29, 1920, the first Birney cars were delivered to Champaign-Urbana the morning of May 28, 1920, and were tested that afternoon.  The newspapers report that they went into service June 6, 1920 on the Church Street line and the Short Line.  However, Paul Stringham, in his book 76 Years of Peoria Street Cars, states that the first 20 Birneys in Peoria, their numbers 400-419 (American Car Co. order #1264, 1921), were in 1923 repainted and renumbered to 100-119 “for distribution to other I. P. & L. properties, some kept in Champaign.”  His book contains a 1923 photo of cars 113 and 114 of this group, in front of the North Adams Street car barn in Peoria.  Stringham lived in Peoria during this period, and his information is probably accurate.  ITS and IP&L often moved cars around among the city properties, and it is more than possible that our records of these moves are incomplete.  This author speculates that the ex-Peoria cars were all distributed from Champaign-Urbana to “other I. P. & L. properties,” and that none were “kept in Champaign.”

#101,102,104,106: To IP&L Cairo #107,105,106,108 12/1927.

#107,111: To IP&L Jacksonville #107,111 1927.

#103,105,108-110,112-114 supposedly became IP&L Peoria #500-507 in 1930 for use in owl service there.  However, a 1936 last-day (November 10, 1936) photo in downtown Champaign depicts #110, and Charles Gammel of Danville has stated that he rode #112 in Champaign on September 19, 1936.  Except for #113, for which there is evidence of transfer to Peoria, we do not really know which Champaign-Urbana Birneys became Peoria #500-507.

600s: #613, 615, 616, 623, 641, 652, 666, 698 2nd hand from United Rys. of St. Louis, 1905.  Operated in Urbana-Champaign with St. Louis numbers.  Had St. Louis 38 trucks as built.

700s: Leased from Illinois Traction System.  In 1908, ITS received an order of single truck cars from the Danville Car Co., cars 700-709.  Car 700 was eventually renumbered 710.  According to local newspapers, the first of this group arrived in Urbana-Champaign January 4, 1908.  #701, 702, 704, 707 are known in Urbana-Champaign.  #707 eventually demotorized and used as a trailer.  Cars #700, 708, 709, and 710 are known to have operated in Danville.  #702 and 703 are known in Bloomington-Normal.  #704, 706, 707, and 710 are known in Decatur.  This list of assignments is obviously incomplete.

DT: Double truck
IP&L:  Illinois Power & Light Co.
ITS:  Illinois Traction System
ST:  Single truck
St. L.:  St. Louis Car Co.
UC:  Urbana-Champaign

Car numbering:
In the beginning, the horsecars were simply numbered consecutively from no. 1.  It is not known how many horsecars were eventually on the property, but almost certainly, there were fewer than 10.  When electric passenger cars began to arrive in 1890, they were numbered consecutively beginning with 10, without regard for motor or trailer, closed or open.  Eventually, when two open cars arrived in 1902, someone seems to have decided to number them in a separate series from the closed cars, and they were assigned the numbers 50 and 51.  Again in 1912, the three double truck cars were numbered in the 60s, presumably to set them apart.  The 600s, second-hand from St. Louis, were operated with their St. Louis numbers.  The 700s belonged to the ITS, and their numbers make sense in the early ITS numbering.  Finally, the Birney cars were numbered beginning with no. 101.
Work cars were treated differently.  In the early 1890s, they were given single-digit numbers, no longer needed for horsecars.  Numbers 1, 2, and 5 are known; presumably there must have been at least a #3 and 4, but no information is available.  Later, the sweeper was given #100, and other work cars were numbered in the 200s.

In all the pictures in this article, click on the picture for an enlargement.
Pictures of Passenger Cars
Picture 14A-1.
Car no. 10 was the first electric streetcar in Champaign-Urbana, entering service in October 1890 when the electric route opened between Hill and Neil Streets in downtown Champaign, and Wright and Green Streets at the University.  Cars 10 and 11 were 16 foot 7 window closed cars built by the Brownell Car Co. in 1890.  This picture, taken from the background of a larger view, shows car 10 in its original configuration, with open platforms and a Bombay roof. — Champaign County Historical Society (detail from #240 lower) (This is the same picture as Picture 3-1.)
Picture 14A-2.
Car no. 11 was the second electric streetcar in Champaign-Urbana.  Cars 10 and 11 were 16 foot closed cars built by Brownell in 1890.  No. 11 went into service on March 13, 1891, when the private right-of-way in Urbana was electrified.  In the 1890s, it was sometimes used as a line car by fitting a platform over the roof.  Note the unusual position of the brake handle: on the platform, rather than over the dash.  This was probably made necessary when the add-on vestibule windows, seen here, were installed.  The car was overhauled in 1897, receiving a more powerful motor, a new paint scheme, and vestibules.  Compare the two pictures of sister car no. 10: Picture 14A-1 above is older, and Picture 14A-3 below is newer.  Car 11 was probably retired after a fogbound collision with ITS interurban car no. 300 on West John Street the evening of March 5, 1908.  The conductor is wearing his bell punch, the fare counting device hanging from his neck.  Look at those long dresses! — Champaign County Historical Society (#235 lower)
Picture 14A-3.
Car 10 is seen here after an extensive rebuild added permanent vestibules to the original 16 foot body.  Even the roof line has been changed, with a full clerestory roof replacing the original Bombay roof.  It is seen here in downtown Champaign, in a blow-up from a larger picture. — Champaign County Historical Society (detail from #77)
Pictures 14A-4 and 14A-5.
Car no. 12 was the third electric streetcar, and the first open car, to run in Champaign-Urbana, entering service April 9, 1891.  Built by Brownell, it had a 20 foot body and 5 foot platforms, seating 40 passengers on its 8 full-width benches.  There was no aisle; the conductor rode the running boards to collect fares from the passengers.  The upper picture shows car 12 along Green Street in the 1890s.  In the lower picture, dated 1910, the car is beginning to show its age, especially on the dash. — Melissa Chambers (Harris family collection) (upper), Illinois Power Co. Archives (lower) (The upper picture is the same as Picture 3-3.)
Picture 14A-6.
Urbana and Champaign do not seem to have been superstitious about the number 13, for here is car no. 13.  Cars 13 and 14 were built by Brownell in 1891, and no. 13 went into service in October, the fourth car in the growing electric fleet.  It was more luxurious than its predecessors, featuring electric heating and upholstered seats for the first time in the Twin Cities.  The body was the same length as that of numbers 10 and 11, but 13 and 14 each had one more window.  This 1894 picture probably shows the car's original paint and equipment.  The car was marked for the University, but did not carry the company name at all.  At this time, it was assigned to shuttle service on the New Street line.  It carried a roof board advertising “U. of I. Band Concert West End Park Saturday Night April 28,” which allows us to date the picture.  The building is the Tremont Street car barn, in its original condition.  Note the little work car no. 5 behind car 13. — Champaign County Historical Museum
Picture 14A-7.
No. 17 and its sister car, no. 16, were acquired in 1892.  They were the largest cars in Champaign-Urbana at that time.  The Champaign County Gazette compared them favorably to the finest steam railroad Pullman “Palace” cars.  The interiors featured solid cherry panels, brass trimmings, and upholstered seats.  This picture, a detail taken from a larger photo, shows no. 17 in front of the Tremont Street car barn during the 1890s. — Melissa Chambers (Harris family collection)
Picture 14A-7.5.
The art work for the sides of cars no. 16 and 17, from the LaClede paint order books.  According to notations on the sheet, the main panel and belt rail were to be painted Paris green, and the “center work” and concave section were to be white.  Ornaments, the broad line, and the lettering on the main panel were to be gold, there was to be no shading or edging on the ornaments, and the letters were to be edged with black.  Numbers were to be “shaded two shades of purple & split with carmine”.  The small lettering to the left of the ornate C says, “Ornament same as on superior”, i. e., same as the panel above.  The upper panel was to have the word Illinois on the right side.  Similar art work can be seen on car no. 13 in Picture 14A-6, above. — National Museum of Transport collection, courtesy of A. Bradley Martin, Jr.
Picture 14A-7.8.
Trailer number 24 appears to be a leftover horsecar, still available to be pulled by electric horsepower when the crowds to be transported exceeded the capacity of the little electric motor cars.  The car could easily seat about 45 or 50 people, not counting standees.  This picture is dated 1910. — Illinois Power Co. Archives, courtesy of Dale Jenkins
Picture 14A-8.
Neither the builder nor the date of building of car no. 25 is known, but it appears to be a typical turn-of-the-century American Car Co. product.  Conductor Lem Bartley and his now-unknown motorman posed with their lady passenger, perhaps somewhere along the private right-of-way in Urbana.  Route signs were still a thing of the future, but ornate scrollwork was still painted on the side of each car.
Picture 14A-8.5.
Car no. 27 is spotted outside the Hickory St. car barn.  Cars 25-27 were second hand from Cleveland, Ohio, where they were presumably too small.  They were probably built by Brill or American Car Co.  Notice the similarity to car 31, seen in a 1910 photo below (Picture 14A-13).  The ad on the dash of the car is for an attraction at the Illinois Theater in Urbana on Friday December 30.  December 30 was a Friday in 1910 and next in 1921.  The picture was probably one of a series taken just before the cars were modifed for Pay As You Enter (PAYE) operation in 1910.  These changes included new sliding doors at the right front, replacing the windowed solid panel seen here. — Illinois Power Co. Archives, courtesy of Dale Jenkins
Pictures 14A-9 and 14A-10.
Car no. 28 was an 8-bench, no-aisle open car, perhaps dating from the late 1890s.  Note how there are no passenger seats on the motorman's platform.  The company was reported to have begun installing fare registers on the cars in September 1891, but these conductors are wearing bell punches.  The "MAIL" sign on the dash announces the fact that, beginning August 5, 1891, sacks of mail were carried on the regular cars between Champaign and Urbana.  Although the company name did not appear on the cars, the letterboard was marked “Urbana University Champaign,” which was the standard for many years. — Champaign County Historical Society, from Urbana Courier archives (Picture 14A-9 from #234 lower, Picture 14A-10 from #235 upper)
Pictures 14A-11 and 14A-12.
In the upper picture, car no. 28 leaves the barn with a trailer in tow, perhaps for service to West End Park or to the Fair Grounds.  The number of the trailer is not visible, but it might have been a former horsecar and it was probably one of the 21 to 24 group.  The scene is at Tremont Street, in the yard outside the car barn, looking northwest.  Notice the lack of a frog in the overhead wire at this switch.  It was the conductor's job to make sure the trolley pole did not leave the wire as the car passed over the switch.  In the lower picture, open car no. 29, sister to car 28, poses in front of the original Tremont Street car barn.  Trailer no. 24 sits in one door of the two-track “annex” built onto the south side of the barn. — Champaign County Historical Society, from Urbana Courier archives (upper), Don T. Thrall photo, William C. Janssen collection (lower)
Pictures 14A-13 and 14A-13.5.
Cars no. 31 and 32 were built by Brill in 1900 on order #10153, and were delivered in August.  Each car seated 40 passengers.  They were delivered as open platform cars, a typical configuration in 1900.  The upper photo shows the first attempt to enclose the vestibule, at least partially; there were still no doors at the top of the steps.  This is probably the condition of the car around 1905 or so.  Note the gleaming paint on the curved side, literally a mirror finish.  In the second photo, from 1910, the vestibules have been completely enclosed with no right-front door, and a roof-mounted route sign has been added.  Compare to car no. 27 in Picture 14A-8.5. — Illinois Power Co. Archives (lower photo)
Picture 14A-14.
Cars no. 33-38 were acquired second hand from Cleveland, Ohio, probably between 1902 and 1904.  They appear to have been built by Brill or American Car Co., possibly around 1902.  The 6 cars comprised the largest single car order for the system at that time.  They were a little longer than the 1900 cars, no. 31-32.  Here, we see no. 33 somewhere in Urbana as Mrs. Jessie Freeman Campbell collected for a charity fund drive, perhaps the annual “Trolley Day” held to benefit Burnham Hospital. — Champaign County Historical Society (#239 lower)
Pictures 14A-15 and 14A-16.
Cars no. 39-41 were built by American Car Co. in late 1904 on order #575.  Car 41 is seen here in its builder's photos, as publicized in Street Railway Journal.  The three cars were all in service in Champaign-Urbana by the end of February 1905.  The upper picture shows car no. 41 on its original Brill 21-E trucks.  The lower picture shows the off-center bulkhead door.  This was the patented Brownell Semi-Accelerator arrangement, designed to speed loading and unloading of passengers in this pre-Pay As You Enter car.  (That means that after a passenger boarded the car, the conductor was responsible for going to him or her and collecting the fare.)  The interior was finished in cherry, with a birch ceiling tinted light green.  Note the longitudinal seating, which was typical of streetcars until a few years later.Street Railway Journal, 1905, v. 25, p. 449.
Picture 14A-17.
A 1910 view of car no. 41 in front of the Hickory Street car barn.  The car has a different truck: a St. Louis 46/Dupont 3 truck has replaced the original Brill 21-E.  Compare the truck in the builder's photos in Picture 14A-15, above.  Also, compare the vestibule window to that of car no. 31 in Picture 14A-13, taken at the same time and place as this picture.  In 1910, after this picture had been taken, several cars, including this one, were converted to Pay As You Enter by installing new right-front doors so that passengers could exit at the front of the car. — Illinois Power Co. Archives
Picture 14A-17.5.
Cars 42 and 43 were probably built by American Car Co. in 1905 or 1906.  They were a little shorter than cars 39-41, having 7 windows instead of 8.  Car no. 42 is seen here in front of the Hickory St. car barn in another of the 1910 pictures taken just before modification for PAYE operation.  Compare the vestibule windows, here a pair, with the configurations of cars 31 and 41 in previous pictures. — Illinois Power Co. Archives, courtesy of Dale Jenkins
Pictures 14A-18 through 14A-21.
Cars no. 45-47 were the first PAYE cars designed as such to run in Champaign-Urbana.  They were built by the Danville Car Co. on order #521 in 1909, and the first two were delivered November 8.  They immediately went into service on the Oregon Street line, whose route sign is displayed in the second picture here; it had been inaugurated earlier the same year.  The top picture is the builder's photo of car no. 46.  The markings near the back door of car 47 in the third and fourth pictures read: “PAY AS YOU ENTER/HAVE EXACT FARE READY/47/U. & C. RY”.  The Champaign News described these cars as “battleship” cars because of their steel-sheathed sides.  These cars held several other “firsts” as well: they were the first Champaign-Urbana cars to be equipped with lever-operated front doors, and probably also the first to have HB Lifeguard fenders.  These fenders were adopted in 1910 as standard equipment on all ITS city cars.  Note the lighter paint scheme in the first and third pictures, compared to the second and fourth. — Danville Car Co. (top), Illinois Power Co. Archives (upper middle), Don T. Thrall photo, William C. Janssen collection (lower middle), William C. Janssen collection (bottom)
Pictures 14A-22 and 14A-23.
Cars no. 50 and 51 are believed to have been built by Stephenson in 1902, and delivered to Champaign-Urbana in 1903.  These ten-bench open cars had a center aisle, taking up one seat per bench.  So the cars seated 40 rather than 50, but gave the conductor much greater safety than the older open cars, which required him to ride the running boards.  The upper view, showing no. 50, was taken in 1910.  The car is signed for the Church & John branches of the main line.  The lower picture, showing car 51, was taken in 1912 on W. Church Street in Champaign.  The car is signed for the New and John Street branches of the main line.  The original picture caption identifies the motorman as Ed Hall and the conductor as Elmer Baker, but based on other photographs of these men, this is believed to be reversed.  Note the unusual roof-mounted bell. — Illinois Power Co. Archives (Picture 14A-22), Champaign County Historical Society, from Urbana Courier archives (#234 upper) (Picture 14A-23)
Pictures 14A-24, 14A-24.5, 14A-25, and 14A-25.5
Cars no. 60-62 were built by St. Louis Car Co. in 1912 on order #953.  The first and only double-truck city cars in Champaign-Urbana, they were 41 feet long and rode on St. Louis 99B trucks.  Despite their length, they each had only a single trolley pole.  Note the roof-mounted gongs.  Car 60 is seen in the upper two pictures, and car 62 in the two lower photos.  The two pictures of car 60 were obviously taken at the same location, perhaps just a few minutes apart, possibly by the same photographer.  Both cars are marked for Church St. on the off-center side route sign.  The unusual instruction “Pay After Entering” can be seen near the rear door in some of these photos, implying that some cars in the city fleet used the Pay As You Enter system, but that these cars do not.  Since PAYE was adopted around 1910, that suggests that the photos were taken not long after these cars were built in 1912, though one wonders why they weren't built for PAYE fare collection.  The logo in the center of the side panel is the same shape as the parent ITS system logo, but has the words Champaign and Urbana in its wings, with the intertwined letters C and U in the center. — Don T. Thrall photos, William C. Janssen collection (second and fourth photos)
Picture 14A-26.
Open car no. 616, some time in the late 'teens or early 20s.  The system owned several second-hand 12-bench open cars numbered in the 600s, built by St. Louis Car Co. in 1902 on order #244 for St. Louis Transit Co. (later United Rys. Co. of St. Louis).  Known in Champaign-Urbana are no. 613, 615, 616, 623, 641, 652, 666, and 698, but other members of the group may also have rolled in the Twin Cities.  The route sign of this car, in shadow, says “New &” something; it was assigned to the New Street branch of the main line.  The conductor, at left, is probably Roy Mount. — Roy Mount collection
Pictures 14A-27 and 14A-28.
In 1908, the Danville Car Co. built a group of closed cars numbered in the 700s for the ITS, which assigned them as needed to the various city systems it owned.  No. 701 was assigned to Champaign-Urbana, and was the first steel-sided city car in the Twin Cities.  It was probably also the first car in the community to have air brakes, and the first to have roll signs in a vestibule window rather than on the car roof.  These cars were also the last single-truck non-Pay As You Enter cars in the Urbana-Champaign fleet.  The upper picture shows the car in its original configuration; note the lack of a right front door.  It is shown in the lower picture in 1921 in front of the Neil Street car barn after having been rebuilt for Pay As You Enter service, with the addition of a right front door and a dash sign saying “Have Exact Fare Ready/Pay As You Enter.”  Note the home made black-on-white “Owl Car” destination sign. — Illinois Power Co. Archives (lower) (detail from a larger picture)
Picture 14A-29.
Cars no. 107-115 were the second group of Birney cars in Champaign-Urbana.  They were built in 1922 by American Car Co. on order #1315, and delivered in November.  No. 110 is seen here on Main Street in Champaign, about to turn south onto Neil Street to begin the return trip to Urbana on the Short Line.  This picture was probably taken on the last day of streetcar service in Champaign-Urbana, November 10, 1936.  About to be retired, no. 110 is showing its age; note the deterioration of the roof over the front vestibule. — Champaign County Historical Society (#238 lower), from Champaign News-Gazette archives
Picture 14A-30.
The third group of Birney cars in Champaign-Urbana, no. 116-120, was built by American Car Co. on order #1390 in 1924.  These were the last new streetcars ever in Champaign-Urbana.  The group is represented here by no. 116 on the Short Line as it crosses Burrill Avenue on the University of Illinois campus on the private right-of-way, eastbound for downtown Urbana.  The Men's Old Gym (now Kenny Gym) and the Old Armory (now Kenny Gym Annex) are in the background.  This picture was taken April 18, 1936, just a few months before the end of streetcar service. — R. V. Mehlenbeck photo.
Picture 14A-31.
Birney car no. 119 passes the company offices and the Illinois Terminal interurban depot on East University Avenue in downtown Champaign.  The car is eastbound on the Short Line, having just begun its run toward Urbana, in this 1935 photo. — R. V. Mehlenbeck photo.
Pictures of Work Cars
Pictures 14A-32 and 14A-32.5.
Line car no. 1 was apparently created from an early electric car, or perhaps a horsecar.  Note the vestibule windows, obviously not original equipment; the old-fashioned roof-mounted headlight; and the boarded-up side windows. — Champaign County Historical Society, W. T. Burnett archive (upper); Illinois Power Co. Archives, courtesy of Dale Jenkins (lower)
Picture 14A-33.
Tower wagon no. 2 is seen at the Tremont Street car barn in this eastward-looking view, probably in the 1890s.  The wagon is adorned with the company name, “U. & C. Electric St. Ry. Co.”  Note the bravado of the lineman on top of the tower, leaning on the live 600 volt trolley wire!  He knows it's safe because he's not grounded, but how many of his friends and relatives understand that?  The original barn has been extended to the south.  Car no. 21, one of the open trailers (possibly a former horsecar), is in the door of the extension.  Car no. 10 is standing in the yard to the right, probably in its original configuration.  Tremont Street, in the foreground, was theoretically a public street, but was obviously used by few vehicles other than those of the street railway. — Champaign County Historical Society, from Urbana Courier archives
Picture 14A-34.
Cars of three generations pose with some of the men who worked on them.  Car no. 47, at the left, dates from 1909; no. 33, center, dates from about 1902; and tower car no. 1, right, from the 1890s.  No. 1 sports archaic add-on vestibule windows and a roof-mounted headlight.  No. 33 has a roof-mounted route sign, while no. 47 has its route sign in a vestibule window.  Notice also how no. 47 has a larger, wider body and clerestory roof.  The men marked X are, left to right: John Key, Ora Patterson, Walter Hall, and Charley Bartley.
Picture 14A-35.
Track no. 4 to this car barn is being installed or replaced.  Car no. 33, at the left, and no. 42, in the center, are both American or Brill Car Co. products, built just a few years apart (about 1902 and about 1906, respectively).  No. 33 is signed for the Neil Street line, which provided local service on the ITS interurban tracks from the city limits on W. John Street to the Wabash tracks on N. Neil.  No. 42 is signed for the New & John branches of the main line, meaning that its western terminus was at Green and Prospect on the New Street route, and that it used E. John to get to the University campus before going to downtown Urbana.  The cab-on-flat work motor at the far right was probably no. 207, which was built in the company shops about 1902. — Don T. Thrall photo, William C. Janssen collection
Picture 14A-36.
Work cars were often created from old passenger cars, sometimes even retaining their original numbers.  Here is car 42 after the addition of a roof platform for use as a tower car and general utility car.  Note the ladder carried along the side of the car.  The vestibule at the left is sagging noticeably; the two pairs of doors at the left no longer hang at the same height above the rails.  The location of this picture is uncertain, but it seems likely to have been somewhere in the area of the car barns on N. Hickory Street in Champaign. — Stephen Scalzo collection

B.  Early ITS Cars

The earliest cars on the Illinois Traction System do not usually receive much attention from rail fans.  Many of them served the minor branch lines of the interurban, and many did not have long careers on the system.  In this section, we highlight some of those early cars, even though some of them did not spend their working lives in Urbana-Champaign.  We begin with a table showing the numbering scheme used for those early cars.
Early car numbering system on ITS Pictures
100s Earliest cars, apparently numbered in sequence with Danville city car numbers 14B-1, 14B-2, 14B-3
200s Main line DC cars 14B-4, 14B-5, 14B-6
300s Branch line and suburban cars 14B-7, 14B-8, 14B-9
350s Main line AC/DC cars 14B-10
400s Branch line and suburban cars  
500s Passenger trailers  
600s Express trailers  
700s ST city streetcars (see Part A, above) 14A-27, 14A-28
800s DT city streetcars (in Peoria, Decatur, and Danville, at least); also possibly work cars (cranes 830 and 854 are known)  
900s Bridge cars (St. Louis suburban) 14B-11
1000s Express trailers 14B-12
1050s Express motors  
1100s Express/freight trailers: box cars with radial couplers 14B-13
1200s Express motors with passenger compartments  
1500s Pull motors  
1550s Locomotives 14B-14, 14B-15, 14B-16
1700s Line cars 14B-17
1800s Refrigerator cars with radial couplers 14B-18

Picture 14B-1.
Cars 134 and 135 were among the first cars acquired by the infant Illinois Traction System.  Built by the Stephenson Car Co. in 1902, they were essentially double truck city cars used in interurban service.  At first, they held down the main line runs between Danville and Champaign, but as newer cars were acquired, they were relegated to branch line service.  We see car 134 here at the unique Homer depot, at the south end of the Homer-Ogden branch line.  Eventually, these two cars were assigned to the Danville city streetcar system.
Pictures 14B-2 and 14B-3.
Cars 136 and 137 were obtained in 1903 from the American Car Co. of St. Louis.  They were 12 feet longer than 134 and 135, and were assigned to the Limited runs between Danville and Champaign.  In the top picture, note “The Limited” sign across the first window of the car, between and above the heads of the motorman and the conductor.  The second picture shows car 136 at the St. Joseph depot. — C. E. Armstrong, R. E. Bowser, & M. L. Carr, Interurban Car Tests on the Illinois Traction System, University of Illinois thesis, 1905 (top picture)
Pictures 14B-4, 14B-5, and 14B-6.
Cars 200-203 were built in 1904 by St. Louis Car Co. (order no. 438).  These cars seem larger than their predecessors on the ITS; they were really interurban cars, rather than glorified city cars.  However, after a few years, they too were superseded on the main line by larger and heavier cars, and were assigned to serve the branch lines.  Car 203 succeeded 134 on the Ogden-Homer line.  In the top picture, we see the car at Ogden in the siding leading to the Homer branch, waiting to meet the through car between Champaign and Danville.  The middle picture shows the result of a violent wind storm that blew car 203 off the tracks on the line between Ogden and Homer on July 13, 1917.  The bottom photo shows the car pulling into the Homer depot, c. 1915.
Pictures 14B-7, 14B-8, and 14B-9.
The early 300s (cars 300-309) were 1907 products of St. Louis Car Co. (order no. 671).  In the upper picture, we see car 300 loaded with passengers.  The middle picture shows one of the group on the siding in front of the courthouse in Urbana, loading passengers on a charter party to Homer Park.  It appears that the boy in the left center, staring wistfully at the car, is not going along.  The bottom picture shows car 308 on the Ogden-Homer line assisting in snow clearing.  Note the “sophisticated” snow removal equipment.
Picture 14B-10.
The Illinois Traction System experimented with alternating current (AC) power distribution in the building of its Peoria-Bloomington line, 1905-1907.  This was less expensive to build, but turned out to be more expensive, and more trouble, to operate.  One problem is that city trackage was still direct current (600 volts DC), so the cars for this service had to operate on either power.  Cars 350-359 were built by the American Car Co. in 1907 for this service.  Here is car 354 as originally equipped, with a pantograph for AC current collection, and trolley poles for DC.  By 1909, the experiment was abandoned, and the AC cars were rebuilt for straight DC power.
  The earliest 400s were car 400, built in 1904 by American Car Co., and cars 401-403, built in 1910 by Danville Car Co.  In later years, several other groups of cars were numbered in the 400s for suburban and branch line service.
  The first trailer cars on the ITS were cars 500 and 501, built by American in 1906.  Both were retired from passenger service in 1914 and 1915, becoming bunk cars until final retirement.  Many later trailer cars, including coaches, sleepers, and parlor cars, were also numbered in the 500s.
Picture 14B-11.
The McKinley Bridge carried interurban cars across the Mississippi at St. Louis, and it also carried local commuter traffic between the east and west banks.  The American Car Co. in 1909 provided motor cars 900-919 and trailer cars 950-959 for this service.  They were housed at the Granite City Shops, as shown here.
Picture 14B-12.
Express car 1006.  The car's poles are both bent, likely from back-poling by crews that should have known better. — University of Illinois Archives
Picture 14B-13.
Express trailer 1105, one of 60 built in 1910 by McGuire-Cummings.
  Cars 1200-1203 were conceived as express cars having a small passenger compartment seating 20.  However, the need turned out to be for a larger passenger compartment, and they were rebuilt (at least one more than once) to have a much larger passenger section, with the express section reduced to a baggage section, more typical of the high-numbered 200s.  (Eventually, two of them were actually renumbered in the 200s.)
  The low-numbered 1500s were designated as pull motors.  They were used to pull express trailers, to move equipment around, or for similar sorts of miscellaneous services.  Eventually, many of them were rebuilt into line cars, which were finally renumbered in the 1700s.
Pictures 14B-14, 14B-15, and 14B-16.
Starting with number 1550, the 1500s were true locomotives.  Eventually, there were several classes: A, B, C, and D, most of them built by the ITS or one of its subsidiaries.  Here are three class A steeple-cab locomotives, 1551, 1554, and 1558, built by the Danville street railway (an ITS property) in 1906 and 1907.
Picture 14B-17.
The line cars were numbered in the 1700s, but none of them carried those numbers when built.  Car 1702 is a good example.  It was originally pull motor 1507, built as such in 1906 by Danville Railway & Light Co.  It was rebuilt in 1922 by ITS into a line car, and then renumbered 1702 in 1925. — Railway Negative Exchange
Picture 14B-18.
Refrigerator car 1800.  Cars 1800-1803 were built in 1907.

C.  K&UT Cars

Only fragmentary information is available about the rolling stock of the Kankakee and Urbana Traction Co.  The company's records have not been uncovered, and most probably have not survived.  Photographs of K&UT cars are exceptionally rare, but a few snapshots are known.  Such information as it has been possible to assemble is presented here.

Compiled by James J. Buckley, Roy G. Benedict, A. Bradley Martin, Jr., and H. George Friedman, Jr.  Thanks to Larry Thomas for information on the cars from the Alton Jacksonville and Peoria.

Cars #100 and 101 were described in the Champaign County News of December 21, 1912 on the occasion of the first service to Thomasboro over the previous two days.  The cars were received on December 18.  They were painted dark green with mahogany trim and gold lettering, and included baggage, smoking, and “ladies'” compartments, with toilet rooms and hot water heaters.  There were seats for more than 50 people, plus temporary seats that could be set up, presumably in the baggage compartment.  The Electric Railway Journal gives a bit more technical detail, reporting that the cars were built by American Car Co., were 53'0" long, and ran on Brill trucks.  The two cars were originally built in 1911 as part of an order of five cars, numbers 100 through 104, for the Alton Jacksonville and Peoria on American order #892.  But the AJ&P had financial difficulties and was unable to take delivery of the cars, so 100 and 101 were sold to the K&UT.  Later, one of these cars was renumbered 244 (the reason is unknown).  The other was reported renumbered 243, but it also may have been the car which was rebuilt into a freight motor numbered 282 or 1282.

Pictures 14C-1 and 14C-2.
Two pictures of car no. 244, showing both ends of the car.  The left picture may have been taken during construction of one of the extensions to the line.  The right picture was taken on the lead track to the car barn, and shows shopman Del Morris at the controls. — Del and Elsie Morris
Picture 14C-2.5.
Number 282 in the car barn. — Del Morris

Electric Railway Journal in 1917 reported that the K&UT had taken delivery in 1916 of a 51' express motor built by Niles, and 7 wooden freight cars of 36' length.  The motor was originally numbered 50, and was renumbered 1650 in 1923 (again, the reason for renumbering is not known).  The motor is believed to have been second hand.  The freight cars included 2 gondola cars from St. Louis Rail & Equipment Co., and 5 box cars from Interstate Car Co.  Nothing more is known about the wooden freight cars.

Cars #201 and 202, a motor and trailer pair, were reportedly purchased second hand from the Wilkes Barre and Hazelton Railway in 1917.  The Urbana Courier reported their arrival in Urbana in July 1917.  The motor car was 51' long and 9'6" wide, weighing in at 90,000 pounds.  The trailer car was 42' long, and may have been from the Dan Patch Line of Minnesota.  The motor car was eventually renumbered 232.

In 1919, the K&UT began listing its equipment monthly in The Official Railway Equipment Register, a listing it maintained until the end in 1926.  Roy Benedict has compiled a roster of the company's cars from those listings.  However, as he points out, the company apparently did not keep its listing up to date with respect to car renumberings or other changes, and some discrepancies are to be found, even in the reported count of the cars.  The dimensions reported also are not necessarily accurate.  Still, this is the best information available.  While it is certainly not a definitive roster, it is reproduced here, with the author's thanks.

Car Nos. Car Type ORER Issue
Dates Listed
50 Electric Motor 7/19-7/23 54'0" 50'0" 8'6" 10'4" 2414 80,000
100-102 Motor Pass. 7/19-4/26            
150 Trailer Pass. 7/19-4/26            
200-201 Gondola (GB) 7/19-4/26 35'7" 33'0" 8'4" 3'9" 2077 80,000
202 Gondola (GB) 11/19-4/26 35'7" 33'0" 8'4" 3'9" 2077 80,000
(8 cars)
Box (XM) 7/19-4/26 37'0" 36'1" 8'6½" 8'1" 2424 80,000
300-301 Flat (FM) 7/19-4/26   40'0" 8'9" *   50,000
1282 Electric Motor 8/23-4/26 54'0" 50'0" 8'6" 10'4" 2414 80,000
1650 Electric Motor 8/23-4/26 54'0" 50'0" 8'6" 10'4" 2414 80,000
(4 cars)
Box (XM) 10/20-4/26 37'0" 36'1" 8'6½" 8'1" 2424 60,000
(1 car) Electric Loco. 6/19-4/26            
(1 car) Electric Loco. 8/23-4/26            
*Beginning in October 1920, the “platform height” of the flat cars was reported as 4'2".

Note that the renumbering of motor 50 to 1650 can be found in this roster.  The author speculates that the Wilkes Barre and Hazelton motor and trailer cars, reported in the newspapers as originally numbered 201 and 202, became cars 102 and 150 in the roster above.  The reported numbers 232, 243, 244, and 282 cannot be reconciled with this roster, yet some are known in photos of K&UT cars.  The author is unable to reconcile these data.

Perhaps in an effort to reduce operating expenses by using lightweight equipment, the K&UT in 1924 placed order #1342 with the St. Louis Car Co. to purchase their lightweight demonstrator safety car, built in 1922 by St. Louis on order #1266 as their car #600 for exhibition in Chicago.  This was the last and the most modern car acquired by the line.  Car 242 was 42' long, weighed 36,000 pounds, and was arranged for one-man operation.  It was powered by four 35 hp. Westinghouse 510-A motors, and ran on St. Louis 64 trucks.  The paint scheme was Pullman green with a Venetian red roof, and passengers were carried on 22 red plush reversible seats.  (This car does not seem to have been included in The Official Railway Equipment Register listings.)  After the K&UT was abandoned, this was the only car to be sold for operation elsewhere.  It was sold in 1930 to the Third Avenue Railway Co. of New York, where it was modified and became their #1702.  In 1934, it was renumbered by Third Avenue as #1250.  The car was finally retired in 1948.

Pictures 14C-3 and 14C-4.
Car 242, the lightweight double truck safety car.  As Third Avenue Railway car no. 1702, and later no. 1250, this car survived long after the demise of the K&UT.  Note the route sign over the right front window, saying “University Route”.  We have a glimpse of the right of way, probably somewhere between Urbana and Rantoul.
Pictures 14C-5 and 14C-6.
The body of one of the heavyweight cars survived into the 1950s as the office of the Broadway Coal Co., sitting on the ground near the site of the K&UT car barn on North Broadway.  The exact date when it was finally scrapped is not known. — Howard Morris

Many of the pictures in this part of Chapter 14 and in Chapter 6 are from the collection of A. Bradley Martin Jr., whose assistance is gratefully acknowledged.  Snapshots taken by Del Morris, a K&UT shopman, were acquired by Bradley Martin from Del's wife, Elsie Morris.

D.  University of Illinois Test Car

Professor Morgan Brooks of the University of Illinois Electrical Engineering Department visited the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, and became interested in the electric railway displays.  Upon his return to the University, he sought out a car for practical instruction of students in problems of rails and equipment, and for research into electric railways.  He obtained cooperation from the Illinois Traction System, on whose tracks he wanted to operate the new car.  He later wrote, “I wanted a certain car that actually had been exhibited at the Fair, but I have a feeling that, because I desired a car without seating, the manufacturers shipped us another car from the factory rather than remove the seats from the one that had been on display.”  Brooks placed the order with the Jewett Car Co. of Newark, Ohio on April 7, 1905 for $2500.30 as lot number 172.  The car was delivered on June 14, but it was not ready to run at the University until the following winter.

In 1906, a new Railway Engineering Department was organized in the College of Engineering, which sponsored programs of study in Railway Civil Engineering, Railway Mechanical Engineering, Railway Electrical Engineering, and Railway Administration.  The car was described in some detail in Street Railway Journal of June 9, 1906 (v. 27, no. 23, pp. 907-908), and the new programs of study were described in a University Bulletin which was extensively quoted in Electric Railway Review for June 15, 1907 (v. 17, no. 24, pp. 786-787).

The car was a standard double end wood sheathed interurban car, divided into two compartments.  One compartment was 22'6" long and was furnished with a desk, filing cabinets, etc. to serve as a lab and office.  The smaller compartment was 11'10" long and contained the equipment.  The car was 44'10" long overall, 8'4" wide, 9'6" high, and was reported to weigh 55,150 pounds.  It rode on Standard Steel Car Co. C-60P trucks having a wheel base of 6'4" and 33" diameter wheels, and was propelled by four 40 or 50 hp. (depending on which report was accurate) Westinghouse 101-D motors, controlled by Westinghouse AB multiple-unit controls.  The control equipment that was usually mounted under the car floor was instead mounted inside the smaller compartment where its operation could be observed.  The braking system was a simple straight air system, with emergency hand brakes.  The car was equipped with recording voltmeters, ammeters, and wattmeters, “and with auxiliary measuring and recording devices by means of which there is automatically made a graphical record of voltage, current, power, speed, acceleration, time and [track] curvature.”  It was also equipped with a pair of wire brushes attached to the inside ends of the truck frames so that they contacted the rails as the car operated down the track.  A low voltage current could be passed through these brushes and the rail between them, providing a means of measuring the resistance of rail bonds as the car passed over them.  The readings were recorded within the car on a continuous paper tape.

The car was operated over both ITS and K&UT lines for various testing and instructional purposes over the years.  It is known to have been active at least as late as 1939 (see Picture 14D-6, below, whose date has been recorded), and was still active when trolley fan writer Stephen D. Maquire featured it in an article in his “Electric Lines” column in the April 1943 issue of Railroad Magazine (vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 134-136).  The Railway Engineering Department was discontinued in 1940, with its programs of study absorbed into other Engineering departments, and the test car was once again operated by the Electrical Engineering Department.  The car survived for a few more years.  Various scrapping dates have been reported, as early as 1941 and as late as 1952.  The most likely scrapping date is late 1944, as reported by Ira O. Baker and Everett E. King in A History of the College of Engineering of the University of Illinois 1868-1945, pp. 493-494.  They state that it was scrapped at that time “because of lack of track outlet facilities”, which probably reflects the disconnection of the tracks on the UI campus from Illinois Terminal trackage.

References for this section, in addition to those cited above, include Lawrence A. Brough and James H. Graebner, From Small Town to Downtown -- A History of the Jewett Car Company 1893-1919, Indiana University Press, 2004.

Picture 14D-1.
The University of Illinois test car in its original livery, as operated by the Electrical Engineering Department.  It is seen here on Green Street at Burrill Avenue, probably in the winter of 1905-1906. — University of Illinois Library Archives
Picture 14D-2.
The UI test car in its revised livery, as operated by the Railway Engineering Department.  The car is seen here on Green Street about 1908, looking south from Engineering Hall toward University Hall, whose tower can be seen above the trees to the right.  (University Hall was on the site presently occupied by the Illini Union.) — University of Illinois Engineering Publications Office
Picture 14D-3.
University students and faculty at work inside the test car. — University of Illinois Library Archives
Picture 14D-4.
The cab and instruments at one end of the test car.  Although it was always intended for test purposes, its interior seems to have been constructed with many of the luxury touches found on typical interurban passenger cars.  Note, for example, the woodwork above the floor, the ceiling lights, and the clock.  This suggests that the car was a “stock” car fitted out to UI specifications.  The handle on the hand brake was later replaced with a horizontal wheel. — University of Illinois Library Archives
Picture 14D-5.
The test car on August 1, 1938.  The Locomotive Testing Laboratory is in the background, and the rails of the private right-of-way are in the foreground.  Compare the simple striping on the car to that in earlier pictures, above.  Note the white flags for an “extra” on the upper front corners of the car. — University of Illinois Public Information Office
Picture 14D-6.
The test car is eastbound at the Ogden station stop on the Illinois Terminal interurban in 1937.  Illinois route 49 is behind the car.  The Peoria & Eastern RR and U. S. route 150 are to our right, parallel to the interurban tracks.  There was a wye at Ogden, originally built to connect the main line to the branch line to Homer.  After abandonment of the line to Homer in 1928, the wye was retained, along with 2.7 miles of track for freight service to the State Line Elevator.  The switch connecting to the branch line is out of the picture, ahead of the car.  Several people can be made out inside the car, in addition to the obvious individual framed by the open window.  It seems likely that this was a class taking a field trip on the car.  The motorman was probably a student or a professor.  (It is not known whether the Illinois Terminal provided a pilot on such occasions.)
Picture 14D-7.
The UI test car on June 7, 1937.
Picture 14D-8.
A snapshot of the test car taken May 7, 1939.  The car is hiding from the elements under a shed next to the Locomotive Testing Laboratory.  Note the broken left front window.  The unknown photographer has recorded that the car body was green, but has left us no explanation for the window.
Picture 14D-9.
Another view of the UI test car, probably in the late 1930s, with the Locomotive Testing Laboratory in the background.  The white flags of an “extra” are displayed on the upper front corners of the car.  The wires powering the removable headlight can be seen hanging down across the dash, plugged in separately into sockets mounted underneath the dash. — Collection of the Illinois Traction Society
Picture 14D-10.
The test car in 1940.  For some reason, the dash has been painted white (or some light color, perhaps cream). — Photo by UI alumnus G. A. Roush

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