Posts Tagged ‘NYC passenger trains’

Blank for 48 Years Now

October 18, 2019

This former train bulletin board that once hung on the wall of the passenger station in Union City, Indiana, is a relic frozen in time.

The station where it hung was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad to serve passenger trains on the Pan Handle line between Chicago and Columbus.

But trains of the New York Central also called at the depot. But note that the train bulletin refers to the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis, .a.k.a. the Big Four and not the New York Central.

That might have seemed confusing to passengers expecting to see New York Central, particularly given that the Big Four became part of the NYC system in 1906.

But the Big Four operated autonomously into the 1930s and even then many along its routes continued to remember the Big Four name.

The PRR’s marquee trains between Chicago and Columbus were the daylight Fort Hayes and the overnight Ohioan.

The Fort Hayes ended on Oct. 28, 1956. The Ohioan name was dropped in April 1958. On the last day of 1958 the former Ohioan was discontinued, leaving the Pan Handle through Union City freight only.

The NYC continue to host a fleet of trains that ran between Cleveland and St. Louis.

Union City would become a footnote in the Central’s efforts to do away with passenger trains on its St. Louis line.

The Central ended the Knickerbocker (westbound) and Southwestern (eastbound) between Cleveland and Union City, Indiana, on Sept. 6, 1967.

It was able to do this without regulatory approval because the Public Service Commission of Ohio allowed railroads to discontinue passengers trains within the state provided they are not the last varnish on a route.

The Central’s action left now unnamed Nos. 312 and 341 as Union City-St. Louis trains of one passenger coach pulled by a lone E unit.

In practice, this train actually originated and terminated in Bellfontaine, Ohio, but did not carry passengers between Bellefontaine and Union City.

This state of affairs continued until Nos. 312 and 341 made their last trips on March 18, 1968.

That left unnamed Nos. 315 and 316 operating through Union City as they traversed their route between Cleveland and Indianapolis.

These trains had survived as long as they did because of their heavy mail business.

No. 315 departed Cleveland Union Terminal every night at 11:50 and was scheduled to arrive at Indianapolis Union Station the next morning at 6:05 a.m. This train was not scheduled to stop in Union City.

The equipment turned and departed Indy at 9:35 a.m. with a flag stop in Union City at 11:30 a.m. No. 316 was scheduled to arrive in Cleveland at 4:05 p.m.

The planners who created Amtrak probably gave little thought to saving trains 315 and 316 and they began their final trips on April 30, 1971.

And with that this train bulletin board was wiped clean for good.

If you look carefully you might see that at some point some wag wrote “Hogwarts Express” as an eastbound Big Four train bound for London.

It is noteworthy that the bulletin board has room for more Big Four trains than PRR trains.

Tthat probably reflects the reality that the NYC had more trains through Union City and then did the Pennsy.

Although some railfans refer to the Union City station as the former Pennsylvania Railroad station the town calls it the Union City Arts Depot.

That’s because it is an all-purpose community center that happens to have a railroad history.

I have to wonder how many people in Union City know much about that railroad history.

Just Like Sunday Mornings With Grandpa

August 18, 2019

Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited is more than four hours late as it passes through Olmsted Falls, Ohio, on a Sunday morning in mid May.

It was a sunny and pleasant Sunday morning in Olmsted Falls as I stood next to the tracks of Norfolk Southern at the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern station that is now owned by a model railroad club, the Cuyahoga Valley & West Shore.

I was waiting for a tardy eastbound Lake Shore Limited that Amtrak predicted would arrive in Elyria at 9:12 a.m. and depart two minutes later.

If that held, that would put No. 48 through Olmsted Falls at about 9:25 a.m.

As I waited, my thoughts flashed back to Sunday mornings in the early 1960s when my grandparents on my mother’s side would come to my hometown in east central Illinois from St. Louis for a weekend visit.

On Sunday morning, grandpa would take my sister and I for a walk of about four blocks that we called “going to the trains.”

On the west side of Mattoon not far from our house was an open area that still had tracks leading to a an abandoned shop building once used by the Peoria, Decatur & Evansville, which was absorbed by the Illinois Central in the early 20th century.

The tracks leading into that long-closed shop were still in place, but rusty and covered in weeds. Cinders were plentiful in the ballast.

This area was located between the tracks of the IC – that former PD&E – and the St. Louis line of the New York Central.

We would walk across those tracks to stand near the Central tracks. Two NYC passenger trains were scheduled to pass through Mattoon during the mid to late morning hours.

The eastbound train was the Southwestern and the westbound train the Knickerbocker. They were all that was left of the Central’s service to St. Louis.

In the early 1960s, both of those trains were still quite grand with sleepers, dining cars and coaches, some of which operated through to New York and all of which operated to and from Cleveland.

Sometimes the motive power for the trains were E units still wearing NYC lightning stripes, but at others times the motive power was Geeps in the cigar band look.

I thought about those trains as I waited for Amtrak No. 48, which had lost time starting with a late departure from Chicago Union Station the night before.

But something happened between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana, where the bulk of the lost time occurred.

Amtrak equipment, like much of that used by the Central, is silver-colored stainless steel. The Central had some two-tone gray smooth sided passenger cars that were assigned to the St. Louis trains.

There are some parallels to where the Central’s passenger service was in the early 1960s and where Amtrak is today.

NYC management under the leadership of Alfred Perlman was convinced that long-distance trains had no future and throughout the 1950s the Central had aggressively discontinued as many of those trains as regulators would allow.

There might not have been any NYC passenger trains for myself, my sister and my grandpa to watch during our walks “to the trains” had the Illinois Commerce Commission allowed the Central to discontinue all service to St. Louis as it wanted to do in the late 1950s.

Amtrak management under the leadership of Richard Anderson has been signaling that it wants to transform its network into a series of short-haul corridors between urban points.

That strategy would eviscerate Amtrak’s long-distance network and probably spell the end of the Lake Shore Limited, the only daily train between Chicago and New York.

Those walks “to the trains” did not last long. By the middle 1960s my grandparents were no longer traveling from St. Louis to Mattoon to visit us.

In the meantime, the Southwestern and Knickerbocker grew shorter, shrinking to one sleeper and a couple of coaches. The dining car no longer operated west of Indianapolis.

In late 1967 the Central posted notices of its intent to discontinue its last trains to St. Louis. By then the trains only operated between St. Louis and Union City, Indiana, the NYC having used the “Ohio strategy” to discontinue them between Union City and Cleveland.

The “Ohio strategy” was a rule of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that allowed a railroad to discontinue a passenger train within the state of Ohio without PUCO approval provided it was not the last passenger train on that route.

The NYC and other railroads used that rule to devastating effect in the 1960s.

The Interstate Commerce Commission stayed the discontinuance of the remnants of the Southwestern and Knickerbocker, but after conducting an investigation concluded they were not needed for the public necessity and convenience. They made their last trips in March 1968.

By then they had shrunk to one E unit and one coach.

My grandpa died in 1982, the same year that Conrail won regulatory approval to abandon the former NYC through Mattoon. The tracks were pulled up through town in May 1983.

In the meantime, the IC razed the former shops used by the PD&E. That area where we used to walk remains an open field passed by a handful of trains of Canadian National.

No. 48 was slowly gaining back some of its lost time a minute or two at a time as it made its was east from Toledo. It departed Elyria about when Amtrak predicted it would.

The Lake Shore Limited continues to be an impressive looking train with three sleepers, six coaches, a baggage car, café car, dining car and two locomotives. But the dining car no longer serves meals freshly prepared onboard.

Just like the Central did, Amtrak is slowing chipping away at onboard service in an effort to cut costs.

As the Lake Shore flashed past, I again felt myself going back to the early 1960s and watching the Southwestern rush past also en route to New York City.

I couldn’t think of too many better ways to spend part of a Sunday morning.

Passing the Olmsted Falls depot, now the home of a model railroad club.

All the meals being served in that dining car behind the Amfleet coach were prepared off the train. The chefs were laid off or reassigned to other runs.

That Was a Long Time Ago

November 1, 2018

With each passing year, the number of people who remember the New York Central Railroad, let alone its passengers trains, becomes smaller.

The Central became part of Penn Central in February 1968. By then most of its passenger trains were gone.

Even among those who do remember, not many will recall the DeWitt Clinton or the Cleveland-Detroit Express.

They are more likely to cite the 20th Century Limited when asked to name ex-NYC passenger trains.

But those trains are memorialized in this sign from the Cleveland Union Terminal that was saved by the Midwest Railway Preservation Society.

It was photographed in the group’s facility inside a former Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse in Cleveland. It is displayed in public every now and then.

Remembering the Mercury

January 20, 2018

In 1936 the New York Central started a new Cleveland-Detroit train called The Mercury. The train featured one of the NYC’s earliest streamlined steam locomotives. The train was pure luxury and maintained an average speed of 60 miles per hour. I just acquired a menu from the 1941 Mercury. I have an extensive railroad menu collection and this is the most variety on one menu that I have ever seen.

Article by Jack Norris

Stately Station in Galion

January 11, 2018

The former New York Central passenger station in Galion, Ohio, is slowly being restored. The different colors of the siding is evidence of this being a work in progress.

Galion, Ohio, is one of many countless towns across America that the railroads have left behind.

Not literally, though, as there are still CSX trains passing through Galion, although fewer of them.

When railroads scale back operations in a town, they typically rip out unused tracks and raze abandoned buildings.

Somehow, though, the former New York Central depot in Galion has escaped that fate.

The last scheduled passenger train to serve this station halted on April 30, 1971. Penn Central served Galion with a nameless pair of trains between Cleveland and Indianapolis, and another pair between Cleveland and Columbus.

Since then, there has been a lot of talk and numerous studies about reviving intercity rail passenger service between Cleveland and Cincinnati over the 3-C corridor.

But those efforts have been blocked by anti-passenger train sentiment in the Ohio legislature and within the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Amtrak has operated some chartered trains that stopped for passengers in Galion, but otherwise these rails have been freight only.

During a visit there last July, it was apparent that the NYC depot in Galion is in a state of transition.

There was evidence of a restoration project in progress, but it seems to have a long way to go.

One of the more intriguing artifacts at the station site is a former station sign post.

NYC stations had brass plates with the name of a town affixed to a pole somewhere along the passenger platform.

The one in Galion has been moved away from the tracks and is missing its name plate.

But seeing it took me back to the days when such trains as the Ohio State Limited, Southwestern, Missourian, and Knickerbocker would pause here to pick up and discharge passengers.

Oh, the passenger history that this pole and lamp fixture have seen.

This post once told passengers that their train had stopped in Galion.

Through This Door Passed . . .

July 6, 2016

Conneaut3 May 8-x

For just over six decades countless numbers of people walked through this door before boarding or after disembarking from passenger trains of the New York Central and a predecessor company, the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern.

It was the latter railroad that built the passenger station in Conneaut in 1900.

Passengers and those seeing them off or picking them up passed through this door for all manner of reasons.

Not all trains stopped here and, in fact, most of them zipped right past. That would have included many trains of  the NYC’s Great Steel Fleet.

The last trains scheduled to stop in Conneaut were the New York to Chicago Iroquois and eastbound No. 222, an unnamed local operating from Chicago to Buffalo, New York.

A sign inside the station says that the last passenger trains stopped here in 1962. Yet the Official Guide of the Railways for April 1963 still shows that Conneaut was a scheduled stop for Nos. 35 and 222.

The trains were scheduled to stop just over an hour apart with No. 35 due in at 11:27 a.m. and No. 222 at 12:53 p.m.

The NYC passenger timetable dated April 28, 1963, does not show Conneaut as a schedule stop for any passenger train.

Today, the LS&MS station is the Conneaut Historical Railroad Museum and will reopen for the season on May 28.

Passenger trains still pass by this station. Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Lake Shore Limited rushes past on what is now the Erie West Subdivision of CSX.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders