The following are less serious incidents that have
occasionally occurred on the "L" between the beginning of rapid
transit service in 1892 and the formation of the Chicago Transit
Authority in 1947. These may include situations in which there was
very little damage or injury and incidents that caused little or no
disruption of service. Also included here are those incidents which
may indeed be of a serious nature, but of which we have too little
specific information to create an individual page for that particular
This is not an exhaustive list of accidents and mishaps
that have occurred on the "L" over the last hundred years. There are,
indeed, a good handful of incidents that are not listed on the site.
Mostly, incidents that are omitted aren't listed because we do not
know about them or have too little information to discuss them
accurately and authoritatively, and in the interest of fairness we
will not list incidents for which there is not corroborated
information. At a later date this page will be updated as more
research can be undertaken on additional incidents. If you believe
you know of an incident that is not listed below, feel free to
contact us and we will add it to our
roster of information to be investigated at a later date.
- November 9, 1893: What is believed to
be the first significant "L" accident occurred on the South Side
Rapid Transit (today's Green Line South Side main line) just
seventeen months after the line opened. A thick fog that rolled in
early in the morning reduced visibility to only twenty paces or
so. At 22nd
Road), steam locomotive No. 40 smashed
into the rear of a train stopped at the station. Though the
locomotive tore through the rear wooden car, no serious injuries
- December 23, 1895: A sleeping motorman
drove his single-car train off the end of the 48th
Avenue stub-end terminal on the
Garfield Park Line. For more information, click here.
- June 20, 1896: A motorcar on the Lake
Street Elevated derailed near Rockwell Street. For more
information, click here.
- May 30, 1899: The beginning of Lake
Street express service to the Harlem Race Track in Proviso
Township had an ominous start when, on the first day of service, a
racing special rammed the rear of a local train at the Oakley
Avenue station. Several persons were injured (but the racing
specials were well-patronized regardless of the incident!).
- January 29, 1901: In late January 1901,
the Lake Street Elevated began service on South Boulevard between
Lombard and Wisconsin (Marion) Avenues. The new service received
little press, but gained some additional (if unwanted) notice
about a week later when two trains collided at the Wisconsin
Avenue terminal. The accident damaged four cars and disrupted
services for over an hour.
- May 15, 1902: The motorman of an
eastbound Met rush hour train disregarded a stop signal and
proceeded onto the Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge, which traversed
the South Branch of the Chicago River, as it was being raised. The
lead car almost reached the end of the bridge, but was prevented
from going over the edge by the incline the bridge had already
achieved. The car rolled back down. Damage was limited to the roof
of the second car, which had been crushed by the back of the first
- 1905*: In 1903, the Lake Street
Elevated starting running through trains to Oak Park from the
Market Street Stub again, followed in 1905 by additional express
trains. That year (exact date unknown), an inbound Market Street
train split the switch at the junction between the stub tracks and
the main line at Market/Lake and derailed. One car fell onto its
side, blocking both tracks of the Market Street branch. It is not
believed that any of the passengers suffered serious injuries.
Car 93 fell from the
structure and remained in this position for about a half
an hour, then fell into the alley on April 7, 1908. For a
larger view, click here.
(Photo from the Steven Hyett
- April 7, 1908: A motor cover came loose
on S.S.R.T. car 93, falling to the track and causing the train to
derail just north of 43rd
Street. Car 93 fell from the structure,
its front on the ground and its rear propped up against the
elevated structure. It remained in that position for a half an
hour before completely falling into the alley. Although the car
was never repaired, it remained on the car roster until 1915, when
it was finally retired as a result of its damages.
- September 12, 1912: A County Traction
Company streetcar traveling southbound on 52nd Avenue in Cicero
failed to make the mandatory safety stop upon reaching the Met's
Douglas Park tracks and slammed into a westbound train. The force
of the collision derailed the train, injuring 11. The only
fatality was the streetcar's motorman, who'd stayed at his
- January 8, 1913: At 6:50am, the
motorman of a three-car train took the curve at Tower 8 (Franklin
Street & Fifth [Wells] Avenue) too fast. The
unoccupied rear car, trailer #5, derailed and plunged to the
street, landing in front of the Metropolitan's Fifth
Avenue Terminal. The wooden car
shattered when it it the street: the roof broke off on three
sides, all the windows shattered, and the sides collapsed.
Luckily, no one was hurt in the incident. Car 5 was retired after
The unoccupied rear car
of this C&OP train, trailer #5, plunged to the street
and landed in from of the Met's Fifth
For a larger view, click here.
(Chicago Daily News
photo, from the Chicago Historical Society
- May 12, 1914: During the elevation of
the North Side tracks between Lawrence
Chicago Milwaukee & St. Paul freight trains and "L" trains
were forced to intermingle on the same tracks beginning in early
May. On May 12th, a steel gondola attached to a southbound freight
train derailed near Ardmore Avenue and crashed into the second car
of a southbound elevated on the inside track. None of the 15
passengers aboard reported serious injures.
- November 24, 1936: A rear-end collision
involving a North Shore Line interurban hitting the rear of an "L"
train near the Granville
station on the North Side destroyed the trailing wooden car. For
more information, click here.
- November 18, 1942: At 8am, a six-car
North Shore Line extra picked up 300 sailors on leave from
and began it's trip north to Great Lakes. There was a thick fog
that limited visibility to just a few feet. At Wilson,
a Howard train and a Wilson Local were standing at the south end
of the yard, the latter engaged in a switching operation to go
into the Lower
Wilson station. The towerman did not
realize that the North Shore train had left Sheridan
and was approaching Wilson
and failed t set the manual block to protect the Wilson Local. The
North Shore interurban approached Buena station (just south of
Wilson Yard) at just under 10 mph and after passing the station,
the motorman, Merrill Miller, saw the Wilson Local emerge from the
dense fog. Despite an emergency application of air and sand, the
interurban hit the rear of the "L" local. The first six feet of
the open platform wooden car on the rear of the local were smashed
in, while the impact derailed the local and pushed it into the
rear of the standing Howard Express in front of it. The North
Shore train was comparatively undamaged. Miller was taken to the
hospital, where it was discovered he lost part of a toe. The
conductor of the Wilson Local was seriously hurt, having sustained
head and internal injuries. Thirty-three passengers on the Howard
Express were taken to the hospital for various injuries. By
9:45am, the track had been cleared a regular rush-hour service
- November 18, 1942: At almost the exact
same time as the previous accident, an eight-car
Ravenswood-Englewood train hit the rear of a two-car Stock Yards
local at 41st and Calumet near the Indiana
station. The Stock Yards train was comprised of A.C.F.
1905-vintage wooden motors and the rear car, 365, was retired the
next year as a result of its damages.
- February 1947*: Lake Street Division
wooden car 3235 was wrecked at Kenilworth Avenue, Oak Park and was
- May 14, 1947: Wooden car 2293 was involved
in a wreck with a Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban train, as
eastbound CA&E car 302 collided with Met car 2293 while the latter was going around the turning loop at Laramie. Car 2293 was retired later that year as a result of its damages.
- June 1947*: Wooden car 181 was involved
in a wreck somewhere on the North Side Division and was retired as
a result of its damages.
* = Ed.: Further details
are not known or exact date unknown.
Campbell, George V., North Shore Line
Memories, Northbrook, IL: Domus Books, 1980.
Cudahy, Brian J. , Destination Loop,
Brattleboro, VR: The Stephan Greene Press, 1982.
Hanzell, Wesley. "Loop tragedy was second major
crash in 13 months". Chicago Tribune 5 February
Keevil, Walter R. and Norman Carlson (editors),
Chicago's Rapid Transit Volume I: Rolling Stock/1892-1947
(CERA Bulletin 113), Chicago: Central Electric Railfans' Association,
Keevil, Walter R. and Norman Carlson (editors),
Chicago's Rapid Transit Volume II: Rolling Stock/1947-1976
(CERA Bulletin 115), Chicago: Central Electric Railfans' Association,
Moffat, Bruce, The "L": The Development of
Chicago's Rapid Transit System, 1888-1932 (CERA Bulletin 131),
Chicago: Central Electric Railfans' Association, 1995.