Photo by Ed Tobin
1896 picture of car number 3
In October of 1891 the Waukegan & North Shore Rapid Transit Company was born. Two local Waukegan businessmen named R.W. Coon and S.W. Bradbury organized the line. This is the first predecessor of the North Shore. Although no tracks were laid or cars bought for a year! June 25,1894 Dewitt Jones , S.D. Talcott, and Charles Whitney bought and renamed the Line- The Bluff City Electric Street Railway Company. A light, single built track was completed in 1895 and service began over a route of 2 miles from Franklin Street and North Avenue to south of the city limits at 10th Street. Two second hand truck cars were sufficient for the Line. Within a few months the line was extended and branched with construction on Washington Street to West Street and also further extended into North Chicago.
C.E. Loss and Clarence Murray served as early managers of the North Shore.
1896 picture of Genesse Street bridge. Bluff Street Railway car on right. Picture by Ray Ramstadt.
In 1897 the cars ran between Waukegan and Lake Bluff. On April 7, 1898 the Line was renamed to The North Shore Inter-Urban Railway Company. This little known name only lasted 5 weeks when it was renamed again to The Chicago and Milwaukee Electric on May 12, 1898. The Line was then owned by AC Frost and George Ball (Ball Canning Jars). Also in 1898 the tracks were extended 13 more miles to Highland Park. The Line only had 4 cars- the Bluff City "dinkies". They were royal blue with gold striping and lettering.
The Chicago and Northwestern had steam engine lines with similar interests as the North Shore and often times would not be a good neighbor. At Highwood, where the interurbans were to cross the Chicago and Northwestern spur to Ft. Sheridan, the C&NW would keep a steam engine on the tracks and squirt live steam at the interurban construction crews as they approached to complete work on nearby North Shore tracks. Never the less, a single track crossing was soon installed at this location.
The first unit of the Highwood shops was constructed in 1898. In 1905 the large brick office building was added.
On July 30, 1898 Ft Sheridan Park had it's grand opening! The NS had leased the Park to Mr Whistler. Railroads often offered excursion trips and had interests in amusement parks as a source of extra income. Ravinia Park catered to the more affluent folks of the north shore. The park had a dance hall, beer garden, theater as well as an open air park.
In 1899 ten more miles of track were added to extend the Line to Evanston. Kenilworth denied a franchise for operation to the NS. Riders had to walk to take a horse drawn vehicles through Kenilworth in order to continue to Chicago via the Milwaukee Road steam train. Joint tickets were sold by the North Shore.
On August 6th of 1899 an agreement was reached with the village and cars then ran directly from Evanston to Glencoe. A week later the through service from Evanston to Waukegan began. This 28 mile run was Chicago's longest interurban!
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