TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Old Interurbans (was Skokie Swift)

Re: Old Interurbans (was Skokie Swift)
8 Mar 2007 08:26:50 -0800

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Another excellent interurban line for
> many years was the Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad


> Now I understand they only run the train as far east as Gary,
> Indiana and possibly one or two trains daily to Michigan City, or
> possibly further east to South Bend.

About seven trains a day run to South Bend. The terminal is now the
South Bend Airport. More trains run to intermediate points, see the
above website for details.

Phone connection: Interurbans always built their own telephone
network. Depending on Bell to call in from distant points was
extremely expensive, especially back in the 1920s. Some lines had a
phone on the train that the motorman plugged into a pole when he
stopped to call in for instructions; other lines required the motorman
to get out and go to a pole box.

The Phila & Western used crank phones (local battery network) well
into the SEPTA era. I think their communication and traffic signal
system was upgraded only a few years ago. For many years the
starter's booth at the terminal had a desk phone with a handle where
the dial would be; those were a modern version of local battery sets.

I believe local battery phones -- where each telephone set has its own
battery supply -- worked better in such applications because of the
long distances. If they needed extra voltage they simply added
another battery in series to the phone. That is a reason it remained
common on long rural loops into the 1950s and even 1960s. I believe
the switchboard circuits were simpler too. I think foreign makers
still built local battery telephone sets well into the 1960s.

Pictures of some old central office switchboards in small towns shows
a bank of common battery jacks presumably for subscribers who lived
close by in the village, and a bank of local battery jacks (which used
a flip shutter) presumably for the more rural subscribers.

I wonder when the last Bell System C.O. of significant size of local
battery service was shut down. (Not counting very unusual or isolated

As an aside, some TV shows erred when using such sets as props. If
you had to crank the phone to get the operator, you always had to do
so, you couldn't merely flash the hookswitch. You also needed to ring

Post Followup Article Use your browser's quoting feature to quote article into reply
Go to Next message: Carl Navarro: "Re: Old Interurbans (was Skokie Swift)"
Go to Previous message: Robert Bonomi: "Re: 511 Traffic Phone Lines May Raise Crash Risk"
May be in reply to: Neal McLain: "Old Interurbans (was Skokie Swift)"
Next in thread: Carl Navarro: "Re: Old Interurbans (was Skokie Swift)"
TELECOM Digest: Home Page