CTA Surface System History presented by the Illinois Railway Museum
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:
- Barbara Lanphier and her staff at the Strahorn Library
- The late Donald Liberko
- William Wulfert
- The late Robert Heinlein
- The late James Heinlein
- The late Mel Bernero
- The late John LeBeau
- J. L. Saunders Jr.
- The late Charlie King
- Joan Vogel (in memory of Arthur Vogel)
- R. M. Jorgenson
- David Phillips
- Donald W. Maag Sr.
- Rev. Daniel Buck
- Andre Kristopans - A HUGE thank you to Andre for not only materials, but all of his incredible historical insight and assistance!!!!
- The late Steve Scalzo & Kimberly Scalzo
- Ken Spengler
- Dave Diamond
- Victor Ramirez
- Chuck Smetana
- Richard Schauer
- Art Peterson
- Joe Stupar
- Bruce Moffat
- The late Julie Johnson
- Ray DeGroote
- Rick Ashton
- The late Roy Benedict
- Bob Oliphant
- The family of the late John Horachek
- Kevin Heinlein
- Robert Bourne
- Julie & Ray Piesciuk
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: 11/24/2023
- There are now 36 issues of North Shore Bulletin available. Click here to go directly to the page with the issues.
- The Rapid Transit Transfer section has been updated with more dates and we have begun breaking out different types of RT transfers for a more accurate historical representation. As always, thanks to Andre Kristopans and Bruce Moffat for their assistance in this project.
- More great history has been uploaded - this time it is transfer history. Once again, a big thanks goes out to Chicago transit historian Andre Kristopans for documenting the history of several different types of transfers to go along with all the images already on this site. Click here to go directly to the Transfers Page. The new items are the third section down.
Other Recent Updates:
- With the help of historian Andre Kristopans, the Chicago Rapid Transit Transfer section has been completely revamped. The transfers have been put into chronological order (as best as we can tell) with a few more dates added. Of any new information we come across will be updated on an ongoing basis. Once again a BIG thank you to Andre for his continued assistance with the images and data on this website. Click here to go directly to the Chicago Rapid Transit Transfers page.
- Within the IRM History section, there are links to other interesting periodicals. The latest set is a newsletter titled Transport Central. It was issued by the late Richard Kunz. He was a good friend to the Museum, generously donating our Cleveland trolley bus #874. We were able to track down one of the original staff members, Robert Oliphant, who granted permission for us to upload and make the issues available to you. Thank you Robert!!! There are 214 individual issues on the site ranging from the very first issue in July 1967 through 1983. Click here to go directly to the page containing those issues.
- Our newest section features a 93 page CSL inhouse book which contains phtos and technical information for many of the types of equipment that ran in Chicago from 1853-1939. The images from this book are available through the courtesy of the late Bob Heinlein and his son Kevin, who graciously allowed us to scan it and gave us permission to load those images for everyone to enjoy. Thank you!!! Click here to go directly to the page containing those images.
- 333 new photos from a "CTA Photo" collection that was donated to us, have been added. The new ones consist of 221 trolley bus photos and 112 motor bus photos. There are now 5,372 photos available on this site. Click here to go directly to the Photos page - the newly added photos are about half way downt he page.
- The 94 latest CTA route timetables have been loaded. This bring the total number of route timetables to 1,608. Click here to go directly to the Timetables page.
- There have been several minor additions throughout the site. The majority of new items are in the Documentation ---> Internal Documents section. Click here to go directly to the Internal Documents page.
- A brand new sub-section has been added to the Signage --> Signs links. Within that sub-section are over 850 images of signs from around the system. You can scroll through the thumbnails and get a higher res image by clicking on the link directly below the sign. The original pages from the CTA binders, including size, material and location of most signs, are also availavle. Click here to go directly to the page which contains the sign links.
- The newest item available is a 119 page, detailed track map book of the entire system from c1950. Click here to go directly to the page which contains the pages from this book.the page which contains these newsletters.
- We have revamped and expanded the bus stop mock-up section containing the older green signs. There are now 149 available to view. Click here to go directly to the Bus Stop Mock-up page.
- We have completed the standard transfer and intercompany renumbering project. A HUGE thanks goes to Andre Kristopans and Bruce Moffat, who took our "best guess" chronology/dates and made them much more accurate. Of course we are still working on them, but the index simplification should make it much easier to identify and date transfers. Basically, the regular issue transfer types will change when the base plate (map) changes and the sub-letter will change when it is simply an overprint change (ink color and/or route restructuring) Click here to go directly to the Transfers page.
Some numbers for this site:
Total photos available: 5,372
Total blueprints available: 549
Total amount of data available: 85.5 Gb
Total individual route timetables available: 1,691
Total number of Service Pamphlets available: 815
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): 252
Total number of web pages viewed on this site (through 11/23/2023): 766,813
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, those will immediately be deleted) 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).