Saturday, May 23, 2015

Harms Woods, Glen View Club and the North Shore and Western Railway

The North Shore and Western is still there -- remnants thereof that is.

When we blogged on the first quarter century of Glen View Club in Golf, Illinois, one of the coolest discoveries was the find that the club was once served by a trolley or streetcar line that ran 3.75 miles from the club grounds to Evanston, where the bulk of the membership resided at that time. The line jutted through Harms Woods across the East Fork of the North Branch of the Chicago River, and then paralleled Old Orchard/Harrison Road into Evanston. The single track system comprised a streetcar, a snow plow and two employees. It was operated for the convenience of the membership and transported employees and caddies as well. It carried Evanston picnickers to Harms Woods too. The streetcar line operated between 1907 and 1933, when improved roads and rapidly increasing automobile ownership made it obsolete. 

We identified the right of way's route by reviewing old maps,
USGS 1953 topographic map showing Glen View Club, Harms Woods and the North Shore and Western right of way.
 and aerial photos,
Aerial image of Glen View Club and Harms Woods, 1939, showing North Shore and Western right of way across top.
and satellite images.
Satellite vuew of Glen View Club and Harms Woods, 2005, faint image of North Shore and Western right of way across top.
Looking for more evidence, we put out an "all cameras" bulletin.
From the North Branch trail, which runs just west of the river, it would be straightforward to explore the old right of way, and, identify, perhaps, what remains in the way of old ties, rails or earthworks. I would not be surprised if footings of the trolley bridge over the river remain visible as well. These explorations I cannot perform from Bozeman, Montana, so I can only hope an intrepid reader will do so, and photograph and report on what they find.
Brian is past President of the Professional Photographers Association 
of Northern Illinois, and is a member of the Professional 
Photographers of America , the American Society of Photographers
 and the Associated Professional Photographers of Illinois.
Sure enough, Brian Morrison, an intrepid professional photographer working out of Northbrook, Illinois, responded. Brian found time in between weddings and commercial photo shoots to reconnoiter Harms Woods off of Old Orchard Road and the North Branch trail, searching for remains of the old right of way. He reports
After a trip to Harms Wood this afternoon, I was looking for more info on the NS&W and came across your blog. There are definitely visible remnants of the line. I had done the same recon with old and new aerial photos that you did, and came to the same conclusion - that research onsite was necessary.
Brian found berms that were built up to raise the right of way above the marshy bottom land, remnants of concrete piers and footings, and areas layered with stone aggregate. Here are several of his photos.

Remnants of concrete pier, single wooden bridge/trestle support post embedded, east side of river, short view.
Remnants of concrete pier, single wooden bridge/trestle support post embedded, east side of river, long view
Path trod on right of way berm extending between river and North Branch trail.
Concrete footing embedded in berm.  
Another concrete remnant.
Brian reports no evidence of rails or ties was found. He surmises the rails were scrapped to support the World War II war effort. That thought is fitting for those who we honor for giving their lives for our country this Memorial Day weekend. Thanks to Brian and thanks to those men and women.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much for this! I had read about this line several years ago, and I tried in vain to find some trace of it while cycling on the trail through the Forest Preserve. I am very glad these artifacts remain!