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TOM'S RAILFAN PAGES
IN SEARCH OF CIRCUS WAGONS













Home | TROLLEY SQUARE | SAVING CTA CAR 28 | CAB RIDE AT THE EAST TROY RAILROAD | MODULAR LAYOUT PROJECT | RIDING ON BUDD CARS | THE 14 YEAR OLD CONDUCTOR | THE ELECTROLINER STORY | MY UNCLE THE MOTORMAN | SOME PHOTOS | IN SEARCH OF CIRCUS WAGONS | IRM IN 1966 | MY BIO PAGE AND AFFILIATIONS





A story of my encounters with the high speed cars 1-4

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I had seen the Circus Wagons before, up on the L, their Maroon and Grey colors stood out from the familiar Green and Cream of the standard fleet. It was 1961 or 1962 when I first saw one and pointed it out to my Dad. He explained to me those were experimental high speed cars and there were only four of them. I wanted to ride on them in a bad way. I got my chance on a cold Sunday afternoon in January. My Dad and I were waiting for a train on the Ravenswood line when in the distance we made out the Maroon colors coming towards us. I was very excited. It was a two car train of Circus Wagons and it stopped at our station so we could get on. The inside of the cars were different by their light grey coloring and Black seats with a Red triangle outlined in white. The acceleration was overwhelming for a boy of 7 and I had to hold onto the standee pole real tight every time the motorman took a point of power. He had to hold the cars back in speed due to the curves on the Ravenswood line, thus the jerky on and off of the accelerator. The motorman had his young son along with him and we all made friends. This was the fastest trip to Belmont I ever had on the Ravenswood Line and I knew we had to get off to transfer trains. As the train pulled away, I felt this would not be the last time I would be riding the Circus Wagons.

A few years passed and another chance came available. The cars got repainted to Green and Cream by 1964 and were modified with Trolley Pans to run on the brand new Skokie Swift. My Dad worked hard to make this project a success and kept me informed on its progress. The weekend after opening day, Dad brought me to Howard St station via the L and we got on a Skokie Swift car. I recognized what I was riding on the minute I stepped inside the car. Black and Red seats with a light grey interior sparked my memory of that cold Sunday. I sat next to the motorman so I could look out the front window. This time the car did not have to be held back. The acceleration was incredable as I felt the car lurch forward to its full speed potential. This was a 5 mile non-stop run to Dempster with all the stops pulled out. The motorman said we are coming up on our fastest spot on the route, the hill near Skokie Shops. He called out the speed as we neared the bottom "83 miles per hour". Just a year before I rode the North Shore Line at the same speed. He braked for a curve at the bottom then he raised the Pan Trolley to start overhead wire operation. The ride was over in 6 minutes and we did it over many times that afternoon. The cars 1-4 were special all right, they were the test bed for the CTA fleet of our present day. I only had a short few years to ride them because the CTA had other plans for them. In the 70's some were scrapped, Car 1 was sold and still exists in Erie PA at the General Electric Yards.
















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Above is Car 2 at the St Louis Car Factory. The car and its brethren were High Speed - High Performance equipment with larger wheels, 400 horsepower and a snappy paint job. Below is Car 1, the last of its kind at rest in Erie PA. The photo dates to Summer 2000. Note it still has its Pan Trolley poles on the roof.

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