CTA Surface System History presented by the Illinois Railway Museum

IRM Logo                 CTA Logo

This website is a collaborative effort between the Illinois Railway Museum's Strahorn Library, Trolley Bus Department, Motor Bus Department, and the Museum's generous donors. If you like what you see here, please consider a donation to any or all of these departments. NO MUSEUM FUNDS ARE USED ON THIS WEBSITE - all domain fees and website builder fees are donated for that specific purpose while scanning and coding is done completely by volunteers. This site will be continually updated so come back often to see what's new! Please mention you like this site when making your donation. Using the donation links below will open a new browser/tab and take you directly to the museum's SECURE website which will allow you to make donations. This window/tab will remain open and accessable. Thank you in advance for your generosity!!!

Click to donate to the Trolley Bus Department

Click to donate to the Strahorn Library

You can also support the Museum by purchasing items from our CTA Sign Website.    Click here to go directly to IRM's CTA Sign Sales Site.   

Clicking on the above link will open a new browser window/tab so this site will continue to be available.
Compare our prices with what you usually find on eBay. We have a MUCH larger selection, you'll get signs for less and support the Museum at the same time.


This website would not be possible without contributions of materials and time from:

Do you see gaps in the website collection? A map that we don't have an image for, or a transfer style/route that is not represented here? Do you have such an item in your collection??? Of course we would love to accept donations of items that are not currently in our colleciton, but, should you want to hold on to artifacts, that's perfectly understandable. We would greatly appreciate a scan of the missing item(s) or contact us via the email link at the bottom of this page to discuss lending us your artifact(s) so we can scan and return them to you. Of course proper credit will be given. Our goal is to make this website as comprehensive as possible, with or without the artifacts in our possession. Please use the webmaster email contact link at the bottom of this page. Thank you for your consideration!!

Latest Update: 03/26/2023

- We are still working closely with historians Bruce Moffat and Andre Kristopans on the transfer colleciton. The newest update has broken out CSL/CTA/CRT/CMC intercompany transfers into their own section. Putting regular issue transfers and intercompany transfers into their own section should help clarify the chronology and usage of these types. To further simplify things, we are renumbering the regular issues with new style numbers when the base plate changes (or other major changes) and subscript letters within these numbers when the overprint color changes only. CSL clockface transfers have now been reindexed. CTA clockface transfers are currently in the process of being reindexed. Click here to go directly to the Transfers page.

Other Recent Updates:

- Bruce Moffat and Andre Kristopans are continuing their work on providing images, catagorizing and clarifying transfers/data. Their latest contribution is 21 more images added to this site of type 12-2. There are now 4,117 different transfer images on the site. Click here to go directly to the Transfers page.

- 43 photos have been added to the "CTA Photo Collection" section of the Photos page. There are now 5,039 photos on the site. Click here to go directly to the Photos page. The CTA Photo Collection is about half way down the page.

- Another 93 individual route descriptions have been added. There are now 4,032 individual route descriptions/driver's maps available. Click here to go directly to the Route Descriptions/Driver's Maps page.

- A new section has been added to the Photos page titles "CTA Aerial Photographs of the Rapid Transit System - 1992". This is a collection of 598 areial photographs of the entire CTA rapid tranist system along with major properties. There are a total of 598 pages, 578 of those contain photos. Click here to go directly to the Pictures page. The aerial photos are about half way down the main page.

Some numbers for this site:

Total photos available: 5,039
Total blueprints available: 511
Total amount of data available: 80.0 Gb
Total individual route timetables available: 1,439
Total number of Service Pamphlets available: 808
Total CSL/CTA Employee magazines available: 753
Total line maps/individual route descriptions available: 4,032
Total transfer images available: 4,117 (3,963 of those from Chicago)
Total full system map scans available (pre-CTA, CTA, RTA, Nortran): 247
Total number of web pages viewed on this site (through 03/20/2023): 679,476


Useful Links:

Illinois Railway Museum Homepage

Chicago L.org Website - Excellent Detail About Chicago's Rapid Transit History

Trolleybuses.net Website - Tons of photos of Trolley Buses and the new home of Dave's Railpix

Please feel free to use the information contained within this website for your personal enjoyment. Nothing contained within this website may be reproduced without first obtaining permission from the Illinois Railway Museum. PLEASE respect the museum and its collection in this matter.
The CTA logo (used on this site with permission) and any logos contained within this website are copyrighted and may not be used or reproduced without the consent of the respective agency/entity.
Please direct questions and comments (no solicitaiton emails please) to IRM-CTA Webmaster . Please indicate something very recognizable in the subject line of your email as we get inundated with spam and we don't want to miss your comment/question.

The Illinois Railway Museum is always looking for donations of CTA and predecessor companies' material. Also use this email if you have artifacts to donate to the museum. We will gladly contact you about making arrangements for donations. Remember that the Illinois Railway Museum is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization and donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law (please consult your tax adviser to determine deductibility).