August 12, 1951 local Milwaukee streetcar service was discontinued, but the Interstate Commerce Commission refused abandonment of the Shore Line Route of this year.
The Silverliner cars were introduced at this time.
December 15,1951 the interior of the Adams and Wabash station was destroyed by fire. It was redone in a more modern, streamlined appearance.
In the early 1950's the NSL was promoting local bus service by subsidiaries in Fon du Lac, Appleton, Racine, Kenosha, and Rockford Illinois. The Waukegan to North Chicago bus operation was also transferred to a subsidiary during the 1948 strike.
In 1953 the Railway was reorganized for the purpose of further diversification. The Chicago North Shore System Incorporated was a holding company incorporated in Delaware. This holding company, called Susquehanna Corporation, gradually sold many of the local transit subsidiaries and ventured into gasoline and uranium processing.
Early 1954, a second petition to abandon the Shore Line Route and provide replacement bus service was filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission. December 31,1954 Shore Line Route abandonment was authorized. The bus service option was not brought up or pursued. May 1955, the Interstate Commerce Commission refused to over-rule the state body.
In accordance with the 60 day notice required by Illinois law, July 24, 1955 was the last day of Shore Line Route service.
A single track from the North Chicago Junction to Highwood and also to Elm Place Highland Park was kept for freight service and access to the Highwood shops.During 1956 the Shore Line was abandoned and some of the land was turned in to parking lots.
Cars still moved up and down the Shore Line Route for service but train crews were the only passengers allowed.
The office and shop employees who's contracts guarantees them transportation to and from work were taken by chartered bus.
Also in the 50's a number of changes in Chicago Transit Authority trackage occurred. The North Shore Line had been renting these tracks for 17 1/2 cents per car mile. In 1952 this was raised to 22 cents per car mile and the following year raised to 23 cents per mile.
Another Chicago Transit Authority in 1953 caused the inbound trains (to Chicago) at Howard, Wilson and Belmont stations unloaded at separate platforms outside the prepaid area for C.T.A. fares.
Susquhanna Corporation in 1959 became Susquhanna Western Corporation. Their interests turned towards uranium, ore processing, manufacturing of welding equipment, computers and other electronic equipment as well as production of shale aggregates for concrete and sales of sulfuric acid. This smaller and more financially troubled transportation line was not profitable for the progressive Susquhanna Western Incorporated.
Card in Holiday Magazine
New Years Day 1956 saw inauguration of a new and to be the last operational timetable for the NSL. Seven re-issues of this public timetable were published however. The hourly limiteds between Chicago and Milwaukee, morning and evening Waukegan to Milwaukee locals, and midday Chicago to Mundelein service every 2-3 hours remained unchanged.
NSL Waukegan Express at Edison Court Station in Waukegan in 1957. Picture by Waukegan News Sun
June 1958 the North Shore asked the Interstate Commerce Commission, Illinois Commerce Commission, and Wisconsin bodies for total abandonment. The North Shore had 10 year operating loses in excess of $4 million.
In October 1959, the Interstate Commerce Commission recommended abandonment, but the Illinois Commerce Commission believed the NSL was a necessary public facility and should continue operations.
Abandonment would mean: 5 years of railway loses deducted from future Susquhanna profits, tax benefits, plus salvage income would amount to initial estimates of over $20 million; however a figure of $11 million was more accurate.
Edison Court Station in 1958. Photo donated anonymously.
The North Shore demise was due to many factors. Rising worker wages (still below other Railroads for similar jobs) and operating costs, automobiles, declining freight traffic, and passenger traffic. Ridership at it's height in 1923 was 16 million passengers. In the final years ridership was down to 4 million.
Late 1959, the Interstate Commerce Commission recommended approval for abandonment.
The North Shore Commuters Association, a group of north suburban residents, formed to try to save the Line. So based on NSCA and ICC claims that the NSL could operate profitably with a fare increase and cost savings. In the spring of 1960 the Interstate Commerce Commission ruled the NSL must continue for a year with 23% increase in fares. Also at this same time, the Chicago Milwaukee St Paul and Pacific also had a 20% increase in fares.
The NSL fare increase only brought $118,493 added revenue. Also this same year saw a $266,909 forced wage increase.
February 15, 1961 the NSL requested abandonment again due to $500,000 loss. Courts, ruling, postponements strung out the final day.
NSL car 175 in front of Libertyville Station on April 29,1961 (photo taken by Nick Jenkins CERA 107 "Route of the Electroliners")
January 1962 and the winter came. Passenger and freight traffic increased, but damages from the storms increased loses.
May 18, 1962- the Interstate Commerce Commission granted the right to begin abandonment process after 35 days, subject to usual requirements that the Line be offered for sale at salvage value for continued operation. The postponement order came on June 15. Attempts were made by the North Shore Commuters Association to buy the Line at salvage value, but fell short. An offer of $1,231,218 was made for the main Line and assets, plus rental of $50,000 per year for Highwood shop access. The offer was refused due to salvage value listed over $6,235,000 for the Road. An offer of temporary operation by the association, after the commuters would purchase line or return it to the owners was also refused.
Commuter Association and the attorney general of Illinois files an appeal with the United States Supreme Court regarding the Interstate Commerce Commissions jurisdiction. May 20, 1962 the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal. Only this ruling ended the legal battle to retain the Railway.
The Chicago Transit Authority would purchase 5 miles of track from Howard to Dempster.
On June 30, 1962 the NSL lease at 223 S. Wabash expired. The Railway offered to renew but the owner was not interested. The C.T.A. provided temporary facilities for ticket office space in the Adams and Wabash "L" station. The rent was cheaper but the NSL lost concession income resulting in increased net expenses.
August 30, 1962 the Chicago and Northwestern railways employees had a strike, shutting down the C&NW. Commuters shifted to the NSL and freight traffic also increased, but at the end of September the C&NW strike was settled.
Saturday, January 19, 1963, twenty four passengers departed on the last Lake Bluff to Mundelein local from the old east line platform in Lake Bluff.
At 2:50 a.m. on January 21, 1963 the last southbound train pulled into Chicago's Roosevelt Road station and 5 minutes later the last North Shore train pulled into the Milwaukee terminal.
Northbound train 437 consisted of cars 751, 760, 715, 757, 774, and 748 with the last four for Waukegan only. The southbound train 436 consisted of 720, 763, 766 and 738. 773 and 252 were for Waukegan only.
Another report has the final midnight trains leaving each end terminal and at 1:35a the trains met at North Chicago. At 2:52am from Milwaukee came "end of the line" call. At 2:54 am the South bound train arrived at Roosevelt Road.
Removal of cars and clean up work continued until Friday, January 25, 1963 At 2:10pm locomotive 455 pulled into the yard for the CHICAGO NORTH SHORE AND MILWAUKEE's final run.
I unfortunately (at least in this circumstance) was born in 1965. America's Fastest Interurban- the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee (CNS & M) ceased operation in the early morning hours of January 21, 1963.
Westleigh and Sheridan Roads near Highwood as it is today. Rare reminder of the NS. Opposite view from the above picture taken in 1950's ?; photo by Charles E. Keevil CERA 30Years Later the Shore Line").
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