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450 series

“The St. Louis Cars”

Car 453, shortly after delivery
Wilbourne Cox, Van Dusen Collection
Manufacturer:St. Louis
Length:55'-4 ½"1
Width at windows:9'-2"1
Width at floor:8'-8'1
Height:12'-7 ½"1
Weight:85,000 lbs.1
Trucks:General Steel Castings
Truck centers:32'-8"2
Truck wheelbase:7'-3"1
Wheel diameter:31"1
Motors:4 GE739A (100 hp)1
Gear ratio:52:19
Control:GE C1653
Seats:54 (451-455)
52 (456-460)
Couplers:Ohio Brass Tomlinson Form 19 automatic1

The 450-series was the last series of rolling stock built for the Chicago Aurora & Elgin.


By 1940, the CA&E was once again looking to purchase new rolling stock but, at the time, the railroad was in receivership. Without a credit rating, the company was unable to acquire a loan or sell securities to pay for any new equipment.

Col. A. A. Sprague and Bernard J. Fallon, the railroad’s receivers, eventually came up with a scheme in order to pay for new cars. They would enter into an agreement where ten cars would be purchased by Lester S. Cain, a representative of the La Salle National Bank of Chicago, and then rented to the railroad. During the year in which the cars would be built, rental payments would amount to $6,500 monthly, and then would become $8,000 per month after delivery.4

On November 28, 1941, an order for ten double ended interurban cars was placed with the St. Louis Car company, the same firm that had recently produced the Electroliners for the North Shore Line, and two of the 5000-series cars for the Chicago Rapid Transit Company. One feature that would be borrowed from each of these designs in the new CA&E cars would be their fish belly sides, which permitted greater internal width for the passengers while remaining within platform clearance restrictions at the floor. The cars were to be delivered by August 1, 1942,4 however, other things interfered.

Just nine days after the order was placed, a fleet of Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor leading to the United States’ entrance into World War II. The resulting rationing of materials and diversion of manpower to the war effort delayed construction for several years.

After the end of hostilities, construction finally began and these ten cars would prove to be the last standard interurban cars built in the United States.

The interiors featured steel tubular seating upholstered in apricot, brown, capucine, coral, red, and scarlet mohair.5 Each car contained a smoking section, however, unlike previous series, only half of the cars were equipped with toilets. Cars 451-455 were fitted with lavatories, while 456-460 used this space for additional seating. The exteriors featured arched roofs, which stood in stark contrast to the railroad roofs present on everything else on the railroad except for the former WB&A cars.

Delivery took place in 1945. Cars 451, 452, and 453 arrived via the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy interchange in Aurora on October 3, and on October 15, test runs of the new equipment began. The next three cars (454, 455, and 456) arrived on November 13. Prior to their entry into service, the new cars were displayed to the public at the Aurora and Elgin terminals on December 6, and at Wheaton and Wells Street between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on December 7. The last four cars arrived the following day.

On December 10, the cars were placed in service with 451-456 making up the morning Cannonball into Chicago.

All ten cars remained in service until July 3, 1957, when the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin shut down all passenger service at 12:13 p.m. The entire passenger fleet remained stored at Wheaton yard. After it became clear that the railroad would not resume operation and no public agency would assume control to continue the service, it was hoped that the ten 450 series cars (which were only twelve years old) would be purchased by another operator for continued use. In a move that was probably done to facilitate this, the 450s were prominently stored in the front of Wheaton yard where they were highly visible.

The Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company considered purchasing the 450s to supplement their aging fleet of “bullet” cars on the Norristown Line. Ultimately the North Shore Line’s Electroliners were purchased instead.

Cars 451, 453, 458, and 460 were purchased by Gerald Brookins for his Columbia Park & South Western which eventually became Trolleyville, USA. The remaining six cars were scrapped. The remaining six cars were scrapped. In 2009, after Trolleyville’s failed transition to the “Lake Shore Electric Railway” museum, the cars were sold off. 451 and 460 were acquired by the Illinois Railway Museum, while 453 went to the Electric City Trolley Museum, and 458 to the Fox River Trolley Museum.

Full history coming soon.

Additional Photos


  1. "Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railroad" 12
  2. "SEO - Y4964: Typical C.A.& E. RY. Cars." Chicago Transit Authority. 14 Mar. 1956.
  3. The Great Third Rail III-18
  4. “Aurora, Elgin Line Will Get Ten New Cars.” Chicago Daily Tribune 12 Jul. 1941: 17. Print.
  5. Monypenny, Leslie. “AURORA–ELGIN TO PUT DREAM CARS ON ROAD.” Chicago Daily Tribune 8 Dec. 1945: 5. Print.