The North Shore Line owned a variety of equipment over the years, including street cars, interurban cars, merchandise cars, electric freight locomotives, maintanence equipment, and standard freight cars. Some of this equipment has been preserved, such as the equipment shown here from the Illinois Railway Museum.
All four paint schemes of the North Shore are shown on the cars in these pages. The original paint scheme was traction orange with black lettering. This is shown on cars 229 and 604. The railroad then switched to the gray-green scheme shown on car 160 for passenger equipment. After a while, the gray was dropped and a green-red scheme was used, known as economy green. This is shown on cars 714 and 749. By the 1950s, steam roads were using stainless steel streamliners on name passenger trains. The North Shore did not have the money to purchase new cars, but came up with a clever paint scheme, the silverliner. Standard cars were painted in this scheme, and it made them look like new cars. At a distance, it looks like stainless steel fluting. Its not until you actually get up close can you tell that its been painted that way.
The design of the cars is fairly unique also, being dictated by the conditions of the railroad. The railroad operated on private right of way between Chicago and Milwaukee, and through the steets of Milwaukee. In both of these situations they operated on overhead power with trolley poles. Entering Chicago over the elevated system put strict requirements on the cars however. On the elevated system, they had to operate on 3rd rail power pickup, meaning the cars needed to be equipped with 3rd rail shoes. The cars had rounded ends, and full radius couplers allowing them to take the sharp curves on the el system. While the cars were manufactured over a span of years through several manufacturers, they retained a fairly standard design and identical control equipment. Cars from all of the different manufactuers could be trained together. The electroliner, the last trains built, were designed for the El also. The sides were rounded at the bottom so that the cars could be made wider and still clear the high-level platforms on the El.
At the time of abandonment in 1963, the North Shore was still operating cars dating back to the 1920s. These cars continued to operate regularly, running at speeds of 80-90 mph on the Skokie Valley. Many of these cars still operate at railway museums across the country. However, as these cars become older they become more and more expensive to maintain, and parts become scarce.Return to previous page