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Interurban car returns home to Illinois after 57 years

A piece of Illinois history has returned to the Land of Lincoln after an absence of more than half a century. The Illinois Railway Museum is pleased to announce that Chicago Aurora & Elgin 453, an historic electric interurban car built in 1945, has returned to its home state of Illinois for the first time since it left in 1962. The CA&E car was unloaded at IRM on Friday, September 27th and was moved into one of the museum’s exhibit buildings for evaluation prior to the commencement of restoration work.

Car 453 was built in 1945 by the St. Louis Car Company for the CA&E, an electric interurban railway which ran between the Loop in Chicago and cities on the Fox River including Elgin, Batavia, and Aurora. This car was one of ten modern all-steel electric cars ordered before World War II but delayed in completion because of rationing of steel and other materials during the war. It was used in daily service for only 12 years, until the CA&E ended passenger service in 1957. In 1962 it was sold to a trolley museum in Ohio and then in 2010 it was resold to the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

The car was made available by ECTM for sale to IRM in June 2019 and through the generosity of its donors the museum was able to finalize the car’s acquisition in August. The car is complete and in excellent structural condition. IRM intends to conduct a restoration of the car, including a full repainting and necessary repairs to its roof, after which it will be placed into service on the museum’s demonstration railroad carrying museum visitors. The car will enable IRM to carry passengers on a five-car train of CA&E cars, something that has not been done since passenger service on the CA&E ended abruptly on July 3, 1957. Click here to donate towards the restoration of car 453.

IRM gratefully acknowledges the support of all those who have donated towards the acquisition of car 453, thanks the Electric City Trolley Museum and its volunteers for their assistance, and extends its appreciation to all who have worked to bring this historic car back to Illinois.