Posts Tagged ‘Gulf Mobile & Ohio Railroad’

Amtrak to Begin Using New Alton Station

September 12, 2017

Amtrak will begin using the new Alton Regional Multimodal Transportation Center on Wednesday.

The facility, which features wide platforms, ample parking, free Wi-Fi, enclosed bicycle lockers, and connections to local transit buses, was built with a combination of federal federal and local funds.

Local buses will also use the center, which is near stores, restaurants, a Hampton Inn, and a Super 8 motel.

The current Alton station is on College Avenue in a depot built by the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad.

Southbound trains will stop two minutes earlier and northbound trains two minutes later than the current published schedule. A formal dedication of the new facility has been set for Sept. 15.

Alton is served by Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

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Bus Service Begins at New Alton Station

August 10, 2017

The new intermodal station has opened in Alton, Illinois, but no date has been set as to when Amtrak will begin using it.

The local transit system in Madison County, Illinois, began using the facility on Aug. 6 and Amtrak expects to begin stopping there within the next few weeks.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the passenger carrier is likely to begin using the new facility in September but first must inspect it and agree to a lease with the City of Alton.

The new station is located at the site of the old city golf course near Homer Adams Parkway and is about two miles northwest of the existing Amtrak station.

Amtrak currently uses the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio depot at 3400 College Avenue. The 89-year-old station is in danger of being razed once Amtrak pulls out of it.

Union Pacific has offered to give the station away to a group that will move it from the site.

But that will cost at least $150,000 and thus far no one has offered a plan to save the station, said Terry Sharp, president of the Alton Area Landmarks Association.

“Maybe it’ll take bringing the wrecking ball right up against the building to get people interested,” Sharp said.

Alton is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Among the features of the new Alton station  are lockers for bicyclists, a pay parking lot and surveillance cameras. Nearby is green space and biking and hiking trails.

City officials hope the 55-acre former golf course site will draw development of new stores, offices and housing.

The project, including associated road improvements, cost about $24 million, which includes the $3.4 million value of the land.

The American Association of Railroaders is planning an outing to mark the end of Amtrak service at the ex-GM&O station and the startup of service at the new Alton station.

“We like to do firsts and lasts related to transportation,” President Rich Eichhorst said, adding that his group’s members rode the last train from St. Louis Union Station in 1978.

Eichhorst believes the last Amtrak train from the Alton GM&O station will be a late-night run from Alton to St. Louis.

The AAR plans to ride from St. Louis to Alton or vice versa or from Alton to Carlinville or the reverse.

The AAR will will sell tickets covering a short train-trip leg and a ride back on its bus with Eichhorst providing commentary.

Tickets are expected to be $25 and limited to 40 people.

Anyone interested  should send a self-addressed stamped envelope to AAR, 9600 Tesson Ferry Road, St. Louis, Mo., 63123, and indicate preference for the last train from the old station or the first train using the new one or both.

Prospective riders should also include their telephone number in case only short notice is given regarding Amtrak’s station change.

Alton Amtrak Outings Set for April 22, 23

March 25, 2017

Two excursions are being planned by the American Association of Railroaders to celebrate the end of Amtrak service to the railroad station in Alton, Illinois, on April 22 and 23.

Passengers will board a Lincoln Service Amtrak train at the Alton depot on both days and spend two hours at a yet to be named site in Missouri for about two hours before turning to Alton late that afternoon.

Capacity is limited and passengers will receive a boxed lunch and beverage. During the trips Rich Eichhorst of the St. Louis-based non-profit educational and historical organization will provide commentary about the railroad and sights along the way.

Ticket are $29 for adults and $24 for children age 11 or younger and can be ordered from AAR, 9600 Tesson Ferry Road, St. Louis MO 63123.

All requests must include the legal name and age of each passenger; choice of travel date; home address and telephone number; and a self-addressed, stamped envelope. For more information, go to: http://www.aarstl.org.

The Alton station, located at 3400 College Ave., was built about 1928 by the Alton Road, later the Gulf Mobile & Ohio.

It is set to be replaced in late June or early July when the Alton Regional Multi-Modal Transportation Center opens.

Depot owner Union Pacific Railroad has indicated the station will be razed unless a non-profit agency takes possession of the station and move it to another location.

Alton Seeking Buyer For its Amtrak Station

January 23, 2017

Alton, Illinois, is making a push to save its existing Amtrak station, which once served the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad.

300px-Lincoln_Service_map.svgThe city has created a marketing brochure with the goal of finding a buyer for the station, which will close once the new Alton Regional Multi Modal Transportation Center opens later this year.

The current depot, located on College Avenue, will close and the city has a year to sell or demolish it.

Because the station is located next to tracks owned by Union Pacific, any buyer will need to follow guidelines established by the railroad as to what uses of the property can be made.

The new owner, though, would have the option of moving the station building to a new location.

The city is working with the Alton Area Landmarks Association in seeking a buyer for the property.

Alton is served by the Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

One Day at High Noon in Springfield, Illinois

December 15, 2016
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The technical quality of this image isn’t great but it is one of the few photographs that I have of an SDP40F taken trackside leading a train.

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Looking south from the fireman’s side of Amtrak SPD40F No. 613 in Springfield, Illinois.

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The control stand of an Amtrak SDP40F.

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Engineer Dean Elliot awaits a highball to depart Springfield, Illinois, with Amtrak train No. 21 in June 1977.

It is almost high noon in June 1977 in Springfield, Illinois. I’m standing near the Illinois Central Gulf tracks (former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio) tracks awaiting the arrival of Amtrak’s westbound Inter-American from Chicago to Laredo, Texas.

I don’t recall if No. 21 was late or on time, but even if the former, it was not excessively tardy.

Leading No. 21 was SDP40F No. 613. I made a single photograph of it sitting in the station with its train.

The image isn’t that good, a product of harsh light, improper exposure and the fact that I scanned it from a color negative that is almost 40 years old.

I wanted to photograph the Inter-American because it still ran with SDP40F locomotives and those have always been a favorite of mine.

The engineer of the train spotted me and waved. On impulse I asked him if I could come up into the cab.

He said “yes” and up I went and got the other three images  you see with this post.

I would later learn that the engineer was Dean Elliot and that he is now deceased. He was a railroader’s railroader and I can only imagine the stories he would have had to tell about life on the road.

But there was no time for that. I only had enough time to grab a few shots before the conductor gave No. 21 a highball to leave Springfield. I thanked the crew and climbed down.

And off they went to St. Louis where a Missouri Pacific crew would take over to pilot the Inter-American on its continuing journey to Laredo.

Today, Nos. 21 and 22 are named the Texas Eagle and operate between Chicago and San Antonio.

Alton, Ill., Amtrak Station Facing Demolition

January 16, 2014

With a new multimodal station planned to open in Alton, Ill., the existing Amtrak station is facing the prospect of demolition if a buyer is not found who is willing to move it to another location.

“We have two years to try to market that site,” said Greg Caffey, Alton director of development and housing. “We’ve started; we’ve gotten historical documents of the building. We are in the process of getting a consultant approved by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. It has pre-approved the consultant’s document and architectural document of the building. In the next three to six months it (the plan) will be completed.”

In May 2013 the city signed a memorandum of agreement with the Federal Railroad Administration, Illinois State Historic Preservation Office, Illinois Department of Transportation and Union Pacific Railroad for the purpose of creating a marketing plan to attempt to sell the current Amtrak station, which opened in May 1928.

Citing safety concerns, Union Pacific, which owns the tracks at the depot, has said it wants the depot razed or relocated.

Any buyer for the 1,602-square-foot brick station at 3400 College Ave. would have to relocate the structure within 12 months of purchase.

If no one buys the 86-year-old building, it will be demolished. If a buyer fails to move the depot within a year, it will be razed at the owner’s expense.

The agreement says the city will market the building with a preservation covenant, information on its historic and architectural significance of the structure, financial requirements and any financial incentives available from the city for a minimum of 24 months after Alton completes the marketing materials —unless someone buys it before that — and work in consultation with the Railroad Administration, IDOT and UP.

If the building is demolished, the city would document its architecture and history in accordance with the Illinois Historic American Building Survey Standards and Guidelines. The report eventually would be deposited in archives at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. IDOT also would reimburse Union Pacific for its permit fees.

“I think it would be very difficult to relocate that building,” Caffey said. “In all likelihood, it will be demolished, that is the likely outcome,” as the railroad does not want to maintain the facility once vacant.

The station is subject to provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1996 because the city is receiving a federal $13.85 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for the new facility at Wadlow. The project, FRA officials say, will have an adverse effect on the station.

The former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad station is not on National Register of Historic Places. A letter from David Valenstein, division chief for environment and systems planning at U.S. Department of Transportation, to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency says it would be eligible for the designation for its local significance.

Terry Sharp, president of Alton Area Landmarks Association, said he would like to see the building preserved, but admits finding a buyer could be difficult.

“It is not in the Upper Alton Historical District; it has no protection that way,” he said. “At least three presidents have been through that station, as well as other famous people. We’re concerned about it. It is another building built for a particular reason; it looks like a train station and functions as a train station. It would be pretty small as a restaurant.”

Not speaking for AALA, Sharp said he personally would like to see the city move the station to the Wadlow site where it might be used as a coffee shop.

“I would like to see it moved and integrated into the new train station,” Sharp said. “It’s a doable thing. We’d like to see it preserved. It’s another building I worry about. It would be great to save it.”

The planned multi-modal transportation center will serve Amtrak and Madison County Transit District buses. Amtrak’s Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle stop there daily.

The agreement says the FRA and IDOT invited Osage and Miami tribes, Alton Historical Commission and Alton Area Landmarks Association to concur with terms of the agreement.