Just about everything you see in this view is gone. That includes Amtrak E units, the National Limited, the tracks the train is using and the former New York Central passenger station on the right.
It is May 1977 and the New York-Kansas City National Limited is detouring through Mattoon, Illinois, due to track work on its regular route via Effingham.
It is early in the Conrail era and the decision has been made to favor the former Pennsylvania Railroad route to St. Louis via Effingham over the former New York Central route via Mattoon.
But it will be a few more years before Conrail can implement that plan. In the meantime, the ex-NYC route continues to host most of the St. Louis-bound manifest freights and, on occasion, Amtrak Nos. 30 and 31.
At the time, the National Limited was pulled by E units because Conrail had let it be known it didn’t want Amtrak’s SDP40F locomotives on its property.
Amtrak did serve Mattoon with its Chicago-Carbondale-New Orleans trains, which used the former Illinois Central, which was Illinois Central Gulf in 1977.
That station was behind me and could be accessed from the former NYC platform via a freight elevator.
Pulling No. 30 is E9A No. 430, a former Union Pacific locomotive that on this day was looking rather tired and shabby. But it got the job done and that was all that counted.
In another hour the eastbound National Limited will pass through Mattoon, but I won’t be around to see it for I will have boarded No. 30 to travel to St. Louis.
The National Limited succumbed to a route restructuring plan that was implemented on Oct. 1, 1979. About a year before that, Nos. 30 and 31 lost their steam-heated equipment in favor of Amfleet and F40PH locomotives.
Conrail abandoned the former NYC through Mattoon in March 1982 and pulled up the tracks in May 1983.
The former NYC station and platform remained in place for more than 20 years after the tracks were removed. The station was razed on April 9, 2004.
Today this scene is a parking lot for a YMCA that was built north of where the NYC tracks used to run.