That tree growing behind the former Amtrak station in Akron wasn’t originally part of the station complex, but it adds a touch of color in autumn.
Akron was left off Amtrak’s initial route map in 1971. The city saw an occasional Amtrak detour move over the years, most notably during the 1970s, but it didn’t become an Amtrak city until November 1990 when the Broadway Limited was removed from Conrail’s Fort Wayne Line and routed onto the Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline of CSX (former Baltimore & Ohio).
Although Akron Union Depot still stood, it had been taken over by the University of Akron. Amtrak built a modular station and used part of the platform area of the former union depot.
The Broadway Limited was discontinued in September 1995 in a massive route restructuring. That might have been the end of the story of Amtrak in Akron, but the New York-Pittsburgh Three Rivers was extended west to Chicago in November 1996.
That train, though, blew through Akron without stopping until August 1998. The Three Rivers used the same station and platform as the Broadway Limited, but the hang up had been who would pay for whatever repairs were needed to the facilities — such as they were — before Amtrak would agree to stop the Three Rivers in Akron.
During the Broadway Limited days, the Akron station had a ticket agent. But during the Three Rivers days, the station had a caretaker, which for a while was the Akron Railroad Club’s Steve McMullen.
The Three Rivers made its last trips through Akron in March 2005, a victim of low patronage, and the end of the great mail and express gambit. Carriage of the latter was the primary reason why the Three Rivers had been extended west of Pittsburgh.
More than a decade after Nos. 40 and 41 halted in Akron for the final time, the Amtrak station in the Rubber City is frozen in time.
I paid a visit to the station in early November to see what remained. It has changed little from my last visit there in March 2012 and, for that matter, it had not changed much since service ended in 2005.
There is a tree growing behind the building that didn’t used to be there and the exterior appearance of the station is the same save for the plywood placed behind the front windows that wasn’t there in 2005. Remarkably, the building is largely free of vandalism and graffiti.
Taped to a front window is a November 2004 schedule for the Three Rivers, various notifications about Amtrak policies, a sign that says this is an unstaffed station, and a sign that says the Three Rivers no longer stops at this station. In fact there is no Three Rivers anymore anywhere.
What is missing is the platform,which CSX ripped out in 2012 when it was conducting a clearance project as part of the development of its National Gateway.
Otherwise, Amtrak’s Akron station remains frozen in time more than a decade after the trains left for good.
Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders
The front of the former Amtrak station in Akron as seen in March 2012. It still looks like this four years later.
Unless you looked carefully. you might miss this sign and think that Amtrak still served Akron.
In this March 2012 view, work has begun to remove the Amtrak platform. The walkway from the station to the platform had already been removed.
The Amtrak boarding platform was removed by CSX i 2012. The view is looking west toward the site of the former Akron Union Depot.
Although Quaker Square still looms over the former Amtrak station in Akron, even it has changed. It is now owned by the University of Akron and used for student housing and special events.
A schedule dated Nov. 1, 2004, remains taped to the front window of the Akron Amtrak station even though the train was discontinued more than a decade ago.