Posts Tagged ‘University of Akron’

Grant Receives R&LHS Research Fellowship

November 8, 2017

Akron Railroad Club member H. Roger Grant has been awarded a $2,500 research fellowship by the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society.

Grant, a history professor at Clemson University, will use his award to research a book-length study of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad.

The project will explore the long, complicated history of the rail line made famous by the song Rock Island Line by Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter.

Many contemporary railroad enthusiasts know the Rock Island as a bankrupt carrier that was among the few railroads not to join Amtrak in 1971. The Rock operated for nearly 130 before being liquidated.

Grant came to Clemson in 1996 from the University of Akron, where he had been teaching history since 1970. In 2006, Grant was awarded the Kathryn and Calhoun Lemon Professorship by Clemson.

Specializing in U.S. history, especially transportation history and American railroads, Grant has written or edited 33 academic books. His latest book, John W. Barriger III: Railroad Legend, will be published in Spring 2018 by Indiana University Press.

Also awarded a fellowship by R&LHS was Scott E. Randolph of Redlands, California.

Randolph graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in History and went on to receive his master’s from the University of Akron, and a Ph.D. from Purdue University.

He has taught at Purdue, Wyoming, and Armstrong Atlantic State Universities and in 2011 joined the faculty of the University of Redlands.

His areas of research include the culture of capitalism, the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, and transportation history with an emphasis on railways.

He is curator and associate archivist for the Erie Lackawanna Historical Society and editor for the Society for the History of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

He will use his R&LHS grant to study a mostly forgotten, yet essential example of Progressive-era regulatory law, the 1913 Federal Valuation Act.

It was intended to establish a rational, scientific base-line for railroad rates. The law provided for a physical valuation of the assets of every common carrier railroad in the country.

Neither railroads nor their regulators possessed a systematic understanding of the cost of providing transportation and thus pricing and its regulation were effected largely ad hoc.

In part because of its seemingly irrational basis, rate-making was central to the “Railroad Problem” that permeated political discourse into the 1930s.

Taking the Farkas Challenge: My Favorite Railfanning Photograph Made in Akron

May 27, 2016

April 30, 2006 in Akron

Fellow Akron Railroad Club member Robert Farkas challenged us to contribute to this blog our favorite railroad photograph made in Akron.

The image shown above immediately came to mind. I made it on April 30, 2006. It features a westbound manifest freight passing the former Akron Union Depot.

On the point is a “rent a wreck” locomotive. The trailing unit is either owned by Union Pacific or used to be because it appears to wear a UP livery.

Akron Union Depot is something of a mystery to me because I’ve never been inside the building, which the University of Akron has transformed into a continuing education center.

Nor do I know what the interior looked liked when it was a train station. I’ve seen only one photograph of the inside of the station and it showed the upper level of the concourse.

I’ve never seen images of the waiting room or the head house. If any present ARRC members have photographed the interior of the station, they’ve never shown those images during a club program.

Most ARRC members came of age after passenger service here ended on May 1, 1971, with the coming of Amtrak so by the time they began photographing, Akron Union Depot no longer served as a passenger station.

This is the third union station to serve Akron. It opened in the early 1950s and was used by just two railroads, the Baltimore & Ohio, and the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Erie Railroad elected to build its own depot across the tracks.

The PRR used Akron Union Depot less than a decade, so the B&O was the primary tenant over the two-decade period when this was a train station. The campaign to have this station built took far longer than the time that the depot served as a passenger train station.

Still, that was enough time for a lot of history to be made and for countless numbers of people to have begun or ended their journey by rail on this platform.

There was a time in the 1950s when Union Depot figured in the activities of the ARRC. Club members sometimes rode the PRR shuttle train to and from Hudson during meetings. At other times, they would board a train here, ride to another city where they conducted their meeting and then returned to Akron, sometimes on a different railroad.

Since this image was made, the train sheds and platform have been removed. For a while, the building itself was in danger of being razed by UA in order to construct a new law school.

But the university has moved in a different direction on the law school, electing to renovate and expand the existing building. So, for now at least, Akron Union Station continues to stand, albeit with virtually every feature of its passenger train days having been removed or modified.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

University Plans to Raze Akron Union Depot

December 24, 2009

This is what the remnants of Akron Union Depot looked like in late 2009. But the days of the platform canopy and the former station building are numbered. (Photograph by Steve McMullen)

The University of Akron is planning to raze the former Akron Union Depot to make way for a new law school building. The university trustees agreed on December 16 to begin design work on the new law school facility, which is expected to cost $23.6 million.

Now known as the Buckingham Building, the former station houses the university’s Pan-African Center for Community Studies, Office of Multicultural Development, the Strive Toward Excellence Program and classrooms.

Demolition of the depot, which was dedicated on April 28, 1950, would begin in 18 to 24 months. The university must still raise the funds needed for the new building and the city of Akron must pay for a realignment of Wolf Ledges Parkway, which is also part of the law school building proposal.

The former depot has 120,000 square feet and university officials told the trustees that the building is inefficient and outdated. The station concourse used to connect to a bus station as well as contain stairways leading down to track level. The concourse now connects to UA’s West Hall and the bus station is gone.

The Buckingham Building is the last steam and streamliner era railroad station left in Akron. Two predecessor union stations were torn down shortly after the railroads ceased using them. Also gone is are two stations used by the Valley Line Railway (later the Baltimore & Ohio), two stations built by the Erie Railroad and the former Northern Ohio Railway station (later Akron, Canton & Youngstown).

Still standing is the terminal used by the Northern Ohio Traction and Light Company and the modular station used by Amtrak until it ceased serving Akron in 2005. The former is now owned by Summit County while the latter remains vacant. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad station in Akron was built on the site of the former B&O Valley Line station at Howard Street.

In a related development, Akron Railroad Club member Steve McMullen reported that CSX crews have been dismantling the remnants of signals bridges and signal stands in downtown Akron. As of Monday (December 21, 2009), only the eastbound home signal bridge for the former JO interlocking was still standing.

McMullen reported that crews are poised to remove the last platform canopy of Akron Union Depot. One platform still remains from the station and it is unclear if it, too, will be removed.

The B&O was the primary user of the third Akron Union Depot. Although the Erie used the second Union Depot, it elected to build its own station rather than use the third union depot. The Pennsylvania Railroad used the Union Depot until removing its last passenger train to Akron, the Akronite, on April 26, 1958.

B&O passenger trains continued to call at Akron Union Depot until the coming of Amtrak on May 1, 1971, when the service was discontinued. Amtrak began serving Akron on November 12, 1990. Amtrak never used the Union Depot per se, but its trains did stop at the east end of the station’s sole remaining platform, which was renovated for Amtrak use.

The former signal bridge lies on the ground on December 15, 2009. (Photograph by Steve McMullen)

It had been years since this signal bridge had working signal heads. (Photograph by Steve McMullen)

An eastbound CSX freight passes through the Exchange Street signals in 2006. The unused signal stands seen here were removed by CSX work crews in December 2009. (Photograph by Steve McMullen)