Posts Tagged ‘restored railroad depots’

Hamilton Seeking to Save B&O Station

February 28, 2020

Officials in Hamilton, Ohio, are making an eleventh hour push to save a railroad depot that CSX has earmarked for demolition.

The former Baltimore & Ohio station was constructed in 1885 and is in rough condition but the city wants to preserve it for various uses.

CSX wants to raze the structure as part of a clearance project and has given the city a Feb. 28 deadline to purchase and make plans to move the station.

In the meantime Mayor Pat Moeller has pleaded with CSX to hold off on the demolition.

City officials would like to move the depot four blocks away and have discussed such possible uses as making it a multi-modal transportation hub, turning it into a museum, making it a restaurant or locating a farmer’s market there.

“The more I learn about this train station, the more I started to realize that this is something special,” Moeller said. “The place does matter.”

Local historians noted that Abraham Lincoln gave a speech near the station during his trip to Washington to be inaugurated as president. President Harry S. Truman spoke nearby in 1948.

Moeller said if the station is razed it would be difficult to rebuild it. The station is listed on Ohio’s register of historic places.

The city is seeking partners to help it save the building.

“Now is the time where I think we have to get it done,” Moeller said. “Gather all the interested parties, create partnerships and get this done.”

The building will need much work. Parts of its roof have are rotted and graffit would need to be removed. But the structure of the building is said to be strong.

New Perspective in Berea

May 19, 2019

Thousands of photographs of trains have been made in Berea over the years.

Most were probably made from or near the parking lot of the former Big Four depot, which is now a restaurant.

The photographer has stood just south of the CSX tracks to capture trains on those rails or the nearby Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

I know all about that because I’ve made countless such images.

Recently, though, I found a new angle I hadn’t considered before. I was walking on the bridge carrying Front Street over both railroads.

An eastbound CSX intermodal train came along and the idea came to me in a flash to get the train going past the depot.

Although I had a clear line of sight, there was a row of tall vegetation along the tracks. That hinders the image somewhat, but there was enough of an opening in it to get a reasonably open view of the lead locomotive’s nose.

This is, I believe, train Q020 and it has a distributed power unit toward the middle of the consist.

Winter Afternoon in Peninsula

January 30, 2018

It had been a while since I’d been able to get out with my camera. Car troubles and other matters had kept me at home as winter fell on Northeast Ohio in early January.

More than a week into the month, I finally got everything squared away and was able to get out of the house to go do some winter photography.

I had plans to go watch a college basketball game in Akron on a Tuesday night so I left the house early and stopped by Peninsula to see what I might find.

I knew better than to expect to catch a train on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. That operation was on hiatus until later in the month. But you can still do a lot without a train.

Several years ago I photographed the Peninsula train station during winter when it had icicles hanging on it. That was not the case on this day because the sun had melted them.

A step box on the platform had accumulated some snow and the platform area had footprints made by visitors to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Snow no longer covered the rails, but in the late day sunlight the ties on the siding were barely visible as the snow had that sunken look.

At the far north end of town sat a baggage car that had been used as a prop when the Polar Express trains were operating before Christmas. Beneath that car was bare ground.

There weren’t many people around on this day. It was still cold and winter is not a time of year when many people want to visit the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.


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.

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.

Kent Erie Depot to Become Italian Eatery

January 6, 2017


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.

Through This Door Passed . . .

July 6, 2016

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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

Reliving the History of Bucyrus T&OC Depot

June 2, 2016

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Railroad stations have a grandeur about them that is both pleasing and deceiving.

It is pleasing because the rich architectural details found in old train stations are largely lacking in the modern transportation facilities.

Yet it can be deceiving because stations did not necessary serve their communities in their intended functions for as long as you might think given that the depot is more than a century old.

Such is the case with the former Toledo & Ohio Central passenger station in Bucyrus.

Built in 1892, it somehow survived a period of abandonment. The depot is still around due to efforts in the community to save and preserve it.

As you stand outside this magnificent structure, it is easy to imagine how several generations began or ended a trip here.

We often use the phrase “once a busy place” in describing old railroad stations.

That’s because we’ve heard it from our parents or grandparents when they described the era of passenger service when most Americans traveled by train or knew people who did.

The implication is that at about any time of the day or night there were crowds of people at the train station. It might have been that at times the T&O station in Bucyrus was a busy place at train time.

But in reality, few scheduled passenger trains ever served this depot and those trains were gone by the middle 1930s.

Bucyrus was located on the eastern line of the T&OC, which began in Toledo and ran to Thurston in southern Ohio where it met up with the western line, which extended between Toledo and Thurston via Columbus.

South of Thurston, the T&OC extended to Charleston, West Virginia, and had a web of branches that served coal mines in southern Ohio and in West Virginia.

Although construction of the eastern line began in 1869, it was not completed until 1880 and placed into operation in 1881.

Passenger service on the eastern line was oriented to local service and none of these trains operated south of Thurston.

A timetable dated March 22, 1914, showed one roundtrip between Toledo and Thurston, one roundtrip between Toledo and Bucyrus, one roundtrip between Bucyrus and Thursday, and three roundtrips between Fostoria and Toledo.

A scheduled dated Jan. 1, 1918, showed the same pattern with all of the trains operating during daylight hours.

That would prove to be the zenith of passenger service on the eastern line of the T&OC.

By the time of the Sept. 30, 1923, timetable, service had fallen to one Toledo-Thurston roundtrip (Nos. 23 and 24) that operated during daylight hours. There was also a Toledo-Bucyrus roundtrip that departed Bucyrus in the morning and returned that evening.

This operating pattern continued through 1935. By then the Bucyrus-Toledo trains did not operate on Sundays.

I was unable to determine the date when passenger service on the eastern line of the T&OC ended, but it was gone by the timetable change of June 1, 1936.

The Bucyrus T&OC station is 124 years old this year, but it only served as a passenger station for at most 44 years or 35 percent of its life. It must have served a railroad function for several years after the end of passenger service.

Today the Bucyrus depot sits as a reminder of a bygone era and the city’s only surviving train station. The locals have done a good job restoring it, yet I’ve always sensed that more restoration work remains to be done.

I’ve never been inside the depot and it apparently is only open on special occasions.

Still, there is plenty to see on the outside and I’ve looked through the windows to get a sense of the interior.

I can picture in my mind men and women standing on the platform or in the waiting room dressed in their Sunday best awaiting the arrival of No. 123 or 124, which were the numbers of the Toledo-Thurston train in its final years.

The train was pulled by a steam locomotive and probably had a couple of heavyweight open window coaches along with head end cars.

There were no dining cars, no air conditioning and no sleeping cars. It was basic transportation designed to take people a relatively short distance.

In the end, though, the combination of the effects of the Great Depression as well as an expanding network of highways combined to doom passenger trains on the eastern line of the T&OC.

Other forces would later work to doom the eastern line itself except for a short segment in Bucyrus.

In that sense, the Bucyrus T&OC depot is a monument to a railroad that no longer was needed, yet is still worth remembering.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

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Searching for The Past at the Former Greenville Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad Passenger Station

August 28, 2015
The former Bessemer & Lake Erie passenger station in Greenville, Pennsylvania, is now an insurance office. The view is looking southward.

The former Bessemer & Lake Erie passenger station in Greenville, Pennsylvania, is now an insurance office. The view is looking southward.

The former Bessemer & Lake Erie passenger station in Greenville, Pennsylvania, was quiet.

It was a hot, muggy summer afternoon and insurance offices aren’t normally open on Sundays.

All was quiet on the railroad, too, and not too many people other than those in passing cars were out and about in downtown Greenville.

Now operated as a State Farm office, the Mission-style Greenville depot is in remarkably good condition.

The exterior probably is more attractive now than it was when the railroad still used the building.

It has been 60 years since the last Bessemer passenger train pulled away from the Greenville station. No. 12 backed out at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 5, en route to Erie, Pennsylvania.

More than 200 passengers boarded the train that morning in Greenville and by the time the train reached Erie it had boarded more than 400.

A newspaper account of the last trip said that passengers had to stand in the aisles and in the baggage section of a combine car because all seats had been taken well before the train reached Erie.

The B&LE was never a major passenger carrier, but it did have its passenger heyday as did other railroads.

That was in the early 20th century when it ran four trains a day between North Bessemer and Erie. Consists routinely were 12 to 14 cars.

Service peaked in 1913 when the Bessemer carried 1.1 million passengers. There were just two years between 1909 and 1920 when the B&LE did not carry a million passengers.

The last passenger trains on the Conneaut branch ran on March 31, 1932. In 1954, the railroad was carried 5,857 passengers, an average of 10 per train.

On May 17, 1954, service ended between Greenville and North Bessemer, leaving Nos. 12 and 13 as the last varnish on the Bessemer.

Nos. 12 and 13 usually operated between Greenville and Erie with a diesel locomotive, a combine car and one coach. For the final trips, though, the trains carried two additional coaches.

The Record-Argus of Greenville gave the last trips extensive coverage. It was front page news the day before the last run and the Monday following the last trips. The newspaper also published a full page of photographs on Monday.

Aside from it being the last northbound trip, the run of No. 13 was also eventful because it had to back up five miles rather than proceeding straight ahead from the depot.

That was due to flooding at Osgood that forced the train to back up to Kremis to reach the then-named KO Subdivision. The train resumed its normal route at KO Junction, which is known today as Sandy.

The detour added 23 minutes to the final run and gave the passengers a look at places they would not otherwise see from the train.

The newspaper said that No. 12 carried 425 passengers, but just 126 of them had purchased tickets. The rest rode on passes.

The last southbound trip of No. 13 had a similar situation. The train carried 588 passenger of which 286 purchased tickets.

For the southbound trip, the B&LE in Erie sold commemorative tickets that noted that it was the last passenger trip. On the back of the ticket was a brief history of the more than 85 years of passenger service on the route.

Some purchased the ticket to have a keepsake but did not ride the train.

No. 13 had a load of Cub Scouts who rode to Greenville and then returned by automobiles driven by a dozen parents.

The Scouts sang songs, including, I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, which they rewrote to “We’ve been riding on the Bessemer, the bullet is her name.”

The Record-Argus noted that members of National Railway Historical Society chapters traveled to Greenville for the occasion, some getting there aboard a chartered bus.

In Conneautville, children held up farewell signs as the train stopped there for the final time.

The newspaper noted that only two flag stops lacked people waiting to board the final trips.

No. 13 arrived in Greenville at 4:05 p.m. The platform was crowded with well-wishers and those waiting to pick up family and friends who had ridden the last Bessemer passenger train.

By then the flooding at Osgood has subsided and No. 13 could travel its normal route.

The railroad make a photograph of the last crew of conductor W.K. Putnam, engineer C.F. Burns, fireman P. Dinchart and baggageman C.G. Reitz.

Then the crowd dispersed and a chapter in the history of Bessemer had ended.

It would not be the last time, though, that a passenger train passed by the Greenville depot.

The Akron Railroad Club sponsored a chartered round trip that originated in Greenville and ran to North Bessemer on June 26, 1955.

Some ARRC members turned out several years ago to photograph or watch a chartered train sponsored by the American Association of Private Car Owners, which ran over the B&LE on a rare mileage excursion.

I didn’t know most of this history as I stood on the remnants of the brick platform in Greenville and made photographs of the station as it looks today.

Although the history of the railroad that passes by this station dates to the middle 19th century, the B&LE itself came into being in late 1900.

I wondered what stories those who passed through the station’s doors over the years could tell about why they were at the station or why they were taking the train.

Were they off to college? Off to begin basic training in the Army? Off to visit grandma in Erie or Pittsburgh? Off on business? Off to start a new life? Their stories were, I’m sure, as varied as those who rode the trains back then.

Most of the passengers and the railroaders who served them, whether aboard the trains or in the station, are gone now and each passing day obscures further the memory of Bessemer & Lake Erie passenger service.

The Greenville station is part of the city’s Commercial Historic District, which was added to the Register of Historic Places in 2000. That probably assures that the B&LE station will remain standing.

It was late afternoon and I faced a long drive home. I took another look around, made a few more photos and thought again about all of those stories that could be told about waiting for a train at the station.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

It's not likely that the hedges at the Greenville station existed in the middle 1950s when B&LE passengers trains last ran. The view is looking northward.

It’s not likely that the hedges at the Greenville station existed in the middle 1950s when B&LE passengers trains last ran. The view is looking northward.

It has been 60 years since baggage and express shipments moved through these doors to a waiting train.

It has been 60 years since baggage and express shipments moved through these doors to a waiting train.

Much care and flare has gone into restoring and maintaining the B&LE passenger station in Greenville.

Much care and flare has gone into restoring and maintaining the B&LE passenger station in Greenville.

Railroad agents no longer look out these bay windows to see if the next scheduled train is approaching the station.

Railroad agents no longer look out these bay windows to see if the next scheduled train is approaching the station.

How Do You Move an Old Depot? Very Carefully

July 30, 2014


The 1881 “original” Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway’s Kent depot was moved from its long time location next to the tracks on Sunday July 27.

Stein House Movers had the delicate task of moving this important piece of Kent history across the tracks and onto a vacant field not far from its original location.

In no particular order here are a few photos of the operation. The station was raised up after supports were placed under it, rolled over to the tracks, the wheels spun around, and then rolled north over the right of way and on to its final resting place.

A truck was used to tie onto the support structure (there was no trailer) and slowly pull the load north with some help from a Deere digger.

To those involved in moving this building, thank you, and a big thank you to Ted Klaassen Jr.,

who purchased it. Plans are to restore it to as close to its original appearance as possible.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee