Posts Tagged ‘Railroad stations’

Michigan Central Depot to Host Detroit Event

September 14, 2017

Michigan Central Station in Detroit will host the annual Detroit Homecoming this year, the first significant event to be held in the vacant depot since the middle 1980s.

The 104-year-old station in the Corktown neighborhood has been the subject of various renovation plans, the most recently being backed by the Moroun family of companies.

They have spent more than $8 million in the past two years making repairs that have included constructing a freight elevator in the shaft of the depot’s original smoke stack and installing 1,100 windows.

Matthew Moroun described the station development as a marathon, but insisted the race is well underway. His father, Matty, purchased the depot in 1995.

For years, the Morouns made few moves to restore the Detroit landmark, which once hosted passengers trains of the New York Central and tenants Canadian Pacific and Baltimore & Ohio, the latter using the terminal between 1946 and 1963.

After taking office in 2014, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan sought to improve what he termed the “somewhat checkered” relationship the Morouns have had with past city administrations.

Matthew Moroun and the mayor have discussed a list of issues involving the depot.

Although that list has not been made public, one known item is a request to replace the building’s numerous broken windows.

The mayor had made it known that he was tired of a former train station with broken windows defining the image of Detroit in national news stories about the city.

“I said, ‘I want you to put windows in the train station. And if you do that, everything else will be just fine.’” Duggan said.

The Morouns installed the windows in 2015 at a cost of $4 million.

Since the the windows went in, Matthew Moroun said he’s had more interest from developers with “hundreds of great ideas” for a building that has sat vacant since 1988 when Amtrak ceased passenger service there.

Moroun estimates it would renovating the station will cost more than $100 million.

“We’re looking for the right idea that’s not only popular and motivating, but also economically viable,” Moroun said. “We’re getting closer all of the time.”

Among the ideas that Duggan has for the station is housing a corporate headquarters or building high-end lofts on the 18th floor, which has a 360-degree view of greater downtown Detroit and the waterfront.

“I’m not the one who has to make the numbers work,” Duggan said. “When the day comes, I’m going to do everything I can to help make the numbers work.”

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The Agent’s Bay Window

August 26, 2017

The Arcade & Attica depot in Curriers, New York, is in part a museum. Although not restored to its former glory, there are exhibits of historical significance.

One room in the one-story wood station resembles old school railroading when small towns like this had agents.

Many depot had bay windows so that the agent could look down the tracks in both directions to watch for arriving trains.

The restoration of this agent’s desk is incomplete. I doubt that the agents back in the day had three red lanterns. The typewriter might be authentic but the agent would have had other tools as well.

Nonetheless it has a historical feel that harkens back to a time when steam locomotive power was a daily regularity and not a novelty for tourists.

Along the N&W in Lodi in 1985

August 8, 2017

 

Here are some more railroad-related photos taken Lodi in August 1985. When compared with today, it is amazing how little of this still exists.

In the top image, The Norfolk & Western station still exists, but notice the track in the foreground. This track is missing now.

In the middle image, the N&W station is on the left, and a formerly railroad-served warehouse is on the right.

The bottom image features a trackside view of the warehouse.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

 

Difference of 21 Years in Springville

July 8, 2017

Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific No. 261 journeyed eastward in 1995 far beyond the historic region served by the company that purchased the Northern Type locomotive from Alco in 1944.

Many in Northeast Ohio were trackside on what today is the CSX New Castle Subdivision when the 4-8-4 locomotive went east on a ferry move to help celebrate the opening of Steamtown National Historic Site on July 1, 1995.

The engine remained in the east for nearly a year before venturing back to Minnesota in June 1996.

I knew a guy who had an “in” with Steve Sandberg of the Friends of the 261 group. For a “donation,” a group of people were allowed the ride the ferry move from Orchard Park, New York, to New Castle, Pennsylvania, on June 15, 1996.

Much of the route followed a former Baltimore & Ohio line that linked Pittsburgh and Buffalo, New York.

Originally, the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway, the railroad in 1996 was owned by the Buffalo & Pittsburgh, a property of Genesee & Wyoming.

I don’t remember the details, but a portion of the ferry run out of Orchard Park was used to publicize an effort at the time to launch rail commuter service in Buffalo.

The group placed its emblem on the drumhead of a former Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) business car that brought up the rear of the train.

Members of the group promoting the commuter rail service rode south a way, maybe to Springville, New York.

My slides show that I briefly disembarked in Springville, which is 20.6 rail miles from Orchard Park.

A large crowd of people gathered at the Springville depot, suggesting that the visit of the steam locomotive must have received widespread publicity. It was my first visit to Springville and I remember little about it.

Just over 21 years later, I made a second visit to Springville. Marty Surdyk, Ed Ribinskas and I were traveling traveling in Marty’s Jeep Patriot on New York Route 39 to Arcade, New York, to chase Arcade & Attica 2-8-0 No. 18.

The B&O station in Springville still stands, but the B&O tracks are gone. The tracks have been gone since at least 2012 and probably longer.

On our way back toward Ohio, we stopped in Springville to photograph the depot, which was built by the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway in 1910 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

A July 1955 issue of The Official Guide of the Railways in my collection shows the last scheduled B&O passenger trains were Nos. 251 and 252, which operated on daylight schedules in both directions between Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

These were coaches only train that used the same Buffalo station as the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western at the foot of Main Street. They carried a great deal of head-end business.

No. 251 was scheduled to stop southbound at 11:30 a.m. while No. 252 came through northbound at 6:11 p.m.

The top image above was made from the crew car that accompanied the 261. It shows the station from the same approximate angle as the image I made last weekend (shown in the lower photograph) from ground level standing a little farther back from the depot.

The tracks have been replaced by a trail that has picnic tables on the former platform, which is not as prominent as it had been 21 years earlier.

The depot has been restored and is well maintained. It is now the home of the Spring Creek Pharmacy, which wasn’t open during our visit.

I found during an online search search an article from the Buffalo Courier Express that the last trips of B&O Nos. 251 and 252 occurred on Oct. 15, 1955, and ended 72 years of passenger service on the line.

The trains were steam powered to the end, pulled by the last two steam locomotives still active in the Niagara Frontier.

The Courier Express article said the B&O lost $247,000 on the trains in the previous year. Engineer Robert C. Sharnock ran No. 251 to Salamanca and took No. 252 back to Buffalo on their last trips. He had worked for the railroad for 51 years.

It may be that that ferry move of Milwaukee Road No. 261 was the last passenger train to ever pass by, let alone stop, at the Springville depot.

If so it means the last passenger train, like the last scheduled train to stop in Springville 61 years earlier, were both steam powered.

Fire Destroys P&LE Station near Beaver Falls

June 23, 2017

A Pittsburgh & Lake Erie passenger station in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, will be razed after it was heavily damaged by fire.

Firefighters told local news media that trying to bring the blaze under control was difficult because the area had no fire hydrants.

That forced fire fighters to use a relay pump to supply water for their efforts.

Known as College Hill station, the two-story structure opened in 1910 and was used to carry passengers to Geneva College.

It was later used by the PAT commuter trains until they were discontinued in 1985. The building was last used in the early 1990s.

Caretaker for Maysville Station Still Open Question

June 7, 2017

Renovations of the Amtrak station in Maysville, Kentucky, are underway, but the question of a caretaker for the depot remains open.

Amtrak is spending more than $500,000 to renovate the station, which is a stop on the route of the Chicago-New York Cardinal.

The improvements will make the station ADA-compliant as well as improve sidewalks, signs, the restrooms and the parking lot.

However, Amtrak wants another organization to take over the task of providing a caretaker and maintaining the station.

Specifically, the passenger carrier wants the city to buy the station, a request that has been spurned by city commissioners. The station is currently owned by CSX.

“We don’t want to [own the building], but if it’s a stipulation of the grant we may have to,” City Manager Matt Wallingford says. Instead, the city is hoping to lease the station rather than buy it.

The city is amendable, though, to working with CSX and Amtrak to provide janitorial services as well as a caretaker service.

Maysville officials are also talking about making other improvements to the station to give it better aesthetic appeal.

That work would use $860,000 in federal grant money with the city providing a 20 percent match.

Maysville is located 65 miles southeast of Cincinnati on the former Chesapeake & Ohio mainline.

Kent Erie Depot to Become Italian Eatery

January 6, 2017

erie-depot-kent

An Italian restaurant is planned for the former Erie Railroad passenger station in Kent and it will have a railroad theme starting with its name.

The new restaurant will be named Treno, which means “train” in Italian. It will be operated by Michael Awad, who owns other restaurants in Kent.

This past week, Kiko and Associates auctioneers sold the equipment and memorabilia that had graced the previous restaurant in the station, the Pufferbelly Ltd.

The Pufferbelly closed Jan. 1 after 35 years in business. Among the artifacts sold in the auction were vintage luggage signs and photographs of trains.

Kevin Long acquired the Pufferbelly in 2008 from the previous ownership that started it in 1981.

“Thirty-five years is a good run,” Long said. “It was just the right time to make a change. I’m going to miss my customers. But the day in and day out of the hustle and bustle . . . no,” Long said with a laugh in an interview with the Akron Beacon Journal. “I’m not gonna miss that.”

Located at 152 Franklin Ave., the station was built in 1875 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Awad said Treno will have a “white table cloth” setting and serve upscale Italian food made from scratch.

He said several changes will be made inside the former station, including leveling the floor to make it wheelchair accessible.

Completion of the renovation work is expected by May. “Everything other than the walls are coming out of here and we’re gonna revamp this place,” Awad said.

Ex-NYC Syracuse Platform Rehabilitated

November 30, 2016

The New York State Department of Transportation has completed a $1.5 million restoration of a former New York Central station platform in Syracuse, New York.

NYC 3The work was done after a 2015 inspection found that the platform had decayed to a point where a privately-owned space below was threatened.

The work was paid for from the state’s transportation budget and involved replacing the concrete deck of the 560-foot long platform.

Workers also removed rust from steel columns, installed a new lightweight roof and painted the columns and back wall.

The NYC passenger station and freight platform were in 2009 placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ann Arbor OKs Money for More Station Studies

September 22, 2016

The Ann Arbor City Council has approved a resolution to amend the city’s professional services agreement with AECOM, an engineering firm, which would provide additional funding to perform further studies on a new Amtrak station.

michiganHowever, some council members expressed discontent about how much money has already been spent on studies related to the new depot.

They noted that nearly a million dollars has already been expended on studies and environmental reviews since 2012 and yet a site for the station has yet to be chosen.

A study recently released identified several station options at three sites.

“This additional money is necessary because we have not narrowed it down to one site. The original agreement included the environment review for one preferred alternative,” said council member Jack Eaton. “If we were able to narrow it down to one alternative we would not have to spend this extra $196,000.”

Public Services Administrator Craig Hupy and Transportation Manager Eli Cooper said the additional city funding is needed for studies of the potential station sites because the project’s current funding grant from the Federal Railroad Association did not provide money for those studies.

Nine council members voted to approve the resolution, with Eaton the sole no vote.

Ann Arbor is served by six daily Wolverine Service trains between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac).

Buffalo Exchange Street Station Closed After Heavy Rainfall Leads to Ceiling Collapse

September 22, 2016

Exchange Street station in Buffalo, New York, has been closed after heavy rain caused the ceiling to collapse.

Amtrak 3The city of Buffalo, which owns the station, has indicated that it will seek cost estimates about repairing the facility, which is served by New York-Niagara Falls Empire Service trains and the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf.

All of those trains plus the Chicago-New York Lake Shore Limited are also served by another Amtrak station in suburban Buffalo in Depew, New York.

Buffalo Public Works Commissioner Steven Stepniak said a contractor has been sent to the site to evaluate the condition of the building. Stepniak said the city will explore various options before moving forward.

The ceiling collapse occurred near the passenger waiting area last weekend and the station was closed on Monday.

Earlier this month, another portion of the ceiling collapsed, prompting the closure of the station’s ticket office.

Amtrak will continue to serve the station in the meantime. The passenger carrier said it is working with the New York State Department of Transportation, but is not directly involved in station repairs because it does not own the station.

A passenger train advocate said the situation underscores the need for a new station in Buffalo near the city’s waterfront.

“We are very concerned over the immediate safety implications, and the loss of service to the increasingly vibrant downtown Buffalo area,” said Bruce Becker, vice president of operations for the National Association of Railroad Passengers.