Posts Tagged ‘depot’

Early Morning and a Late Lake Shore Limited

August 2, 2019

The sun is slowly climbing over Olmsted Falls, Ohio, as a very late Lake Shore Limited scoots toward Chicago.

Under normal circumstances Train No. 49 would have passed here in darkness.

The sun angle when this image was made on May 11 made photography tricky but did yield a nice reflection from the lead P42DC locomotive No. 92.

The former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern (later New York Central) depot at right is now the home of a model railroad club.

No Time to Waste at Pesotum

July 26, 2019

A tardy southbound Saluki races past the former Illinois Central Railroad depot in Pesotum late on a Tuesday morning.

No. 391 had earlier met its northbound counterpart at Rantoul, where the southbound train was 24 minutes behind schedule.

It lost another 14 minutes between Rantoul and Champaign and by the time it reached DuQuoin it was 1 hour, 8 minutes down.

But through the “miracle” of recovery time, a.k.a. schedule padding, No. 391 pulled into Carbondale a mere 32 minutes late.

No passenger train has been scheduled to stop at the depot in Pesotum for several decades.

Amtrak Station in Tucson

April 27, 2017

The streetside view of the former Southern Pacific station in Tucson, which is now used in part by Amtrak.

Last October I was  on vacation in Tucson, Arizona. I paid a visit to the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, which uses a portion of the former Southern Pacific station.

Amtrak still uses the SP station, although it shares it with Maynard’s Market, a deli-type operation.

I was there on a Thursday and Amtrak’s Sunset Limited was not scheduled to operate in either direction. Tucson is still a staffed station with checked baggage service.

The size of the Amtrak facilities appear to be appropriate for the use that the station gets and the depot has been nicely restored.

The streetside entrance to the Amtrak station. The depot is located on Toole Street.

The exterior of the station as seen from the trackside view.

The Amtrak ticket office in the Tucson station.

Another angle of the Tucson ticket office.

One end of the waiting room. In the distance is the former CTC machine used by Southern Pacific dispatchers to control traffic on the Sunset Route.

The other end of the waiting room, which has a number of historic photographs on the wall. The ticket office is to the left and straight ahead.

The door to the platform as seen from inside the waiting room.

On the platform. The building on the other side of the tracks is the maintenance facility for the Tucson streetcar network.


Signs that Harken to a Past Era of Train Travel

April 13, 2017

There was a time when every large city in America had one or more “union” stations, meaning depots used by multiple railroads for their passenger service.

There remain quite a few union stations in America, but most of them either are no longer served by passenger trains (e.g., St. Louis) or just see a couple trains a day (e.g., Indianapolis).

Photographs that I’ve seen of these stations back in the days when travel by train was more pervasive than it is now have featured certain types of signs that directed travelers to boarding areas.

Shown are two such types of signs at Chicago Union Station, which is, arguably, the last great train station left in the Heartland of America in terms of frequent use by rail passengers.

The top sign is carved into the masonry work of the station and isn’t going anywhere. The bottom sign, though, is portable and may not longer be in use at CUS.

Both have an old-fashioned quality about them that suggests an era long ago and well before anyone thought there would someday be an Amtrak.

Down the Steps to the Waiting Room

February 11, 2017


The Amtrak station in Mattoon, Illinois, has below-ground boarding, a result of an early 20th century project to lower the Illinois Central Railroad tracks through town.

The station used by Amtrak today was built at the same time that the IC tracks were lowered. The depot is now owned by the city, which paid to restore it several years ago.

Countless thousands of people have walked these stairs going to or from their train. They came from all walks of life and were traveling for every reason you can imagine.

One of them was a young man who with his new wife arrived by train in a trip to see her grandmother in a retirement home in nearby Sullivan.

As he ascended these steps he might have been thinking about the idea he’d just had during the journey about how to flesh out a song he had started writing years earlier.

His name was Steve Goodman and the song was City of New Orleans. We know what happened within a couple years after he climbed these stairs.

A Station Amtrak Never Saw

January 27, 2017


For a few years in the late 1970s, the State of Illinois helped underwrite the financial losses of a pair of Rock Island Railroad intercity passenger trains.

The Rock had elected not to join Amtrak in 1971 because it figured it was cheaper that way. So it had to keep operating its Chicago-Rock Island and Chicago-Peoria trains.

They received spiffy names, the Quad Cities Rocket and the Peoria Rocket. Actually, there always had been a Peoria Rocket, more than one as a matter of fact.

I rode the Peoria Rocket to and from Chicago in June 1977. The train was as bare bones as the financially struggling Rock Island could make it. It had two coaches and a single E unit.

At the urging of the state, Amtrak agreed to study taking over the Rockets. But that never happened and the last trips of the Rockets occurred in late 1978.

The photograph above was made from aboard the Peoria Rocket during a station stop in Ottawa, Illinois.

It could have been an Amtrak station, but the price of Amtrak taking over the Peoria Rocket was just too high. Ottawa hasn’t seen intercity rail passenger service since.

The ‘Pointless Arrow’ Still Lives at Amtrak

December 31, 2016


In April 1971, the National Rail Passenger Corporation unveiled its new logo, an inverted arrow that many wags came to call the “pointless arrow.”

It symbolized Amtrak for several years before the current herald was adopted. Although the arrow logo has been more or less retired, it continues to greet the public at some Amtrak stations.

One of those is Durand, Michigan, where it looms over passengers entering the former Durand Union Station. Aside from serving Amtrak, the Durand depot also houses the Michigan Railroad Museum.

Better Than Most Unstaffed Amtrak Stations

December 12, 2016


Like so many Amtrak stations in small and medium sized cities, there is no ticket agent in Bangor, Michigan.

Unlike some of those stations, the Bangor station offers a warm and dry place to wait for the train.

Shown is the waiting room of the depot used by the Chicago-Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pere Marquette. It is housed in what used to be a portico of the original brick station.

The Pere Marquette Railway built the depot in 1926 to replace a wood structure destroyed by fire.

The site was used through the end of Chesapeake & Ohio passenger service in 1971 but sat vacant before a model railroad manufacturer occupied the structure in 1981.

Amtrak’s Pere Marquette began using the building in 1984, but vacated it in 1991 when the model railroad company, known as the Kalamazoo Toy Train Factory, closed.

The city of Bangor purchased the station in 2001 and sold most of it in 2004 to a health care provider.  The attic was converted to a second floor and the south portico was enclosed to make a waiting room for Amtrak passengers. The city still owns this portion of the depot.

Just off the waiting room is a restaurant, The Railroad Cafe and Coffee Bar. I don’t know if it is open at train time, but if it is passengers have a place to get something to eat or drink.

The restaurant occupies the original station waiting room. The benches in the station appear to have a railroad heritage and might be original to this depot.

There are ample copies of Amtrak schedules in the racks against the wall, including a stack of the last Amtrak national timetable ever printed.