Abandoned and Forlorn in Crestline


Unless you are familiar with the Fort Wayne Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Penn Central and Conrail, you might be puzzled that when Amtrak began service on May 1, 1971, its Chicago-New York/Washington Broadway Limited stopped at Crestline, Ohio.

This village of 4,600 is near Mansfield, which has a population of 46,000. But Amtrak chose to stop in Crestline and not Mansfield. In fact, Amtrak never stopped in Mansfield even though between 1971 and 1990 it put four trains a day through the county seat of Richland County.

Crestline was a crew change point for Penn Central, which probably had a lot to do with why it was chosen rather than Mansfield as an Amtrak stop.

Amtrak’s early planners sought to minimize the number of station stops on most routes and therefore the Broadway Limited would serve just three stations in Ohio: Lima, Crestline and Canton.

Crestline wasn’t any ordinary town. The PRR had a roundhouse and yard here. There was a large union station in the northeast quadrant of the diamonds where the PRR crossed the Cleveland-St. Louis line of the New York Central. There was a railroad YMCA.

The union station and YMCA were gone by the time I first visited Crestline. In fact, Amtrak was also gone, the Broadway Limited having been rerouted off the Fort Wayne Line in November 1990.

This image was made in September 1998. Amtrak had been gone for nearly eight years and the Amshack that it had used in Crestline was in disrepair.

I haven’t been back to Crestline for several years, but I believe this structure was removed when the Fort Wayne Line was reworked after the Conrail split. There isn’t much of the railroads left in Crestline except the tracks themselves.

There was no need to keep the Amshack given that Amtrak is unlikely to return to the Fort Wayne Line through Crestline.

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