It was not unusual for Amtrak’s National Limited to detour between Terre Haute, Indiana, and St. Louis.
The scheduled route was via the former Pennsylvania Railroad via Effingham, Illlinois, but the Penn Central dispatcher had the option of running the train over the ex-New York Central route through Mattoon, Illinois.
After Conrail took over Penn Central in 1976, it began rebuilding the ex-Pennsy route used by Amtrak Nos. 30 and 31.
In late April 1977, the National Limited was rescheduled to operate during the afternoon hours between St. Louis and Effingham. That also coincided with the track gang hours.
So, for a good part of May 1977, Nos. 30 and 31 detoured via the ex-NYC route, making the Effingham stop at the former NYC passenger platform in Mattoon
The last NYC passenger train through Mattoon had been discontinued in March 1968, but the platform was still in place on the south side of the tracks.
I was a young reporter for the Mattoon Journal Gazette and I gave myself an assignment one afternoon to cover the detour of the National Limited.
I went down to the tracks, interviewed waiting passengers, and made photographs of both trains using Kodak Tri-X film.
Much has changed since that May 1977 day. The National Limited was discontinued on Oct. 1, 1979, and in March 1982, Conrail abandoned the former NYC tracks through Mattoon. The rails were picked up a year later.
The former NYC station has since been razed. The platforms remained in place for several years after the tracks were pulled up, but were eventually taken out in the early 2000s to make way for a parking lot for the YMCA.
Tags: 1970s era Amtrak, Amtrak, Amtrak E units, Amtrak E9A No. 412, Amtrak in 1970s, Amtrak in Illinois, Amtrak in Mattoon Illinois, Amtrak in the 1970s, Amtrak photographs, Amtrak photography, Amtrak trains, Amtrak's National Limited, E9A No. 412, Illinois Amtrak routes, Illinois Amtrak trains, Mattoon Illinois, National Limited, New York Central Railroad