Central Electric Railfans' Association (CERA)

Ever wonder where all the other "L" junkies and electric traction railfans are hiding out? Well, a lot of them are in the Central Electric Railfans' Association (CERA)! Based in Chicago, CERA is the premier railfans group with a focus on Chicago-area and Midwestern electric traction. They do a lot of presentations and publications regarding the "L", as well as other transit systems. If you are a fan of Chicago traction, this may be the organization for you. Read a little more about CERA below and to find out more about joining, just write to the address at the bottom of the page!

Visit the Official Central Electric Railfans' Association web site!

History and Mission

The Central Electric Railfans' Association was formed in 1938 to encourage the study of the history, equipment and operation of urban, suburban, interurban, and main line electric railways. CERA is incorporated under the laws of the state of Illinois as a non-for-profit technical and engineering society, governed by a board of nine directors who serve staggered three-year terms. In carrying out the Associations activities they are assisted by other members.

CERA has a number of functions and performs many services for its members. An important activity is the publication of an annual bulletin on one or more properties. (Bruce Moffat's book The "L" was CERA Bulletin 131, for instance.) Meetings are held in Chicago ten to twelve times a year, approximately monthly, each featuring some aspect of electric railroading. Occasionally, fan trips are made which provide an opportunity to view the inner workings of an electric railway. All CERA activities are open to the general public as well as members.


CERA has just published its 132nd bulletin, Northern Indiana Railway, by George K. Bradley. This 244-page book chronicles the life of one of Indiana's lesser heralded electric railways which served communities along the south and east sides of Lake Michigan and competed with the Michigan City-to-South Bend leg of the South Shore Line interurban.

CERA publishes a bulletin roughly once a year and it is free to those members with an Active Membership. This and other CERA bulletins are, of course, also available for sale to the general public. In addition to Bulletin 132, CERA has many of its past publications still for sale, such as The "L": The Development of Chicago's Rapid Transit System, 1888-1932 (an obvious favorite of this web site), A Rainbow of Traction, Not Only Passengers, From Bullets to BART, The Colorful Streetcars We Rode, Gary Railways, Modernization of Car 15 and Other Early CERA Bulletins, 30 Years Later: The Shore Line, and many, many more. Nearly all books are 8.5"x11" and hardbound. There is no postage & handling charge for any CERA orders. For their 1999 catalog, send a request to the address below.

Join CERA!

CERA invites your participation! Memberships are available. For more information about CERA as well as a copy of their latest book catalog, write to:

Central Electric Railfans' Association
P.O. Box 503
Chicago, IL 60690-0503