TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Old Interurbans

Re: Old Interurbans

Neal McLain (
Thu, 08 Mar 2007 21:27:25 -0500

I wrote:

> On Saturday, March 3, RFD-TV will telecast 'Midwest=20
> Trolley Tour Part 2.' Features Indiana, Cleveland,=20
> St. Louis, Illinois Terminal, North Shore Line winter
> scenes" as part of its regular weekly series "Trains and
> Locomotives." I watched it earlier this week; there are
> a few brief scenes of the Skokie Swift in action.

> Saturday, March 3, 9:00 AM EST

Lisa Hancock asked:

> Would you know if this will be on any other cable=20
> stations (ie BRV, Travel, etc.)?

Not that I know of.

RFD-TV is a non-profit corporation that gets its revenue from
advertising and viewer contributions ($30/year). Advertising is
minimal: only at hourly breaks, but never during programs. The
target audience is rural America, and the programming reflects it:
agriculture, gardening, animal husbandry, farm equipment,
horsemanship, country music, cattle auctions, FAA activities.

DirecTV (Channel 379) and Dish Network (Channel 9409) both carry
RFD-TV. Judging from the posts I read on SCTE-list, many rural
cable systems also carry it, but the larger urban systems don't.

The companies that provide the "Trains and Locomotives" programs are
(typically) small outfits that cater to railfans; they provide the
programs to RFD-TV at no charge as a form of advertising. The
programs usually include end-of-program plugs to draw attention to
their producers' other programs.

Commercial outfits like Travel Channel don't seem to be interested in
hour-long programs that have no commercial breaks; that appeal to
such small audiences; and that include built-in ads for the program

In a subsequent message, I wrote:

> Unfortunately, most of the history of the old interurbans
> has been lost. Unless some dedicated railfan decided
> that a photographic record was important (and his family
> preserved the records after his death), images just don't
> exist.

PAT responded:

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: That is not so in the case
> of ours! A 30 minute video entitled "The Last Run" is
> devoted to the "Union Traction Company" (1904-1937) and
> its followup company called "Union Electric Company"
> (1937-1947) ...

That's good news. One of these days, it might appear on RFD-TV. If
so, I' ll let you know.

And later:

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Another excellent interurban line for
> many years was the Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad (the
> electric orange train which ran between Randolph Street in downtown
> Chicago and South Bend, Indiana ...

The aforementioned 'Midwest Trolley Tour' program (which started this
tread) includes footage of the South Shore line (although it may have
been Part 1 rather than Part 2). Both were produced by Mark 1 Video

Neal McLain

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