With an early morning flight home the decision was made to spend the night at the Hilton Hotel in O’Hare Airport. A 9th floor roon facing the runways was great for checking out the terminals, plane watching, and enjoying the sunset.
The control towers were literally just outside our windows.
The train between the terminals alternated amusingly from empty to packed.
The underground walkways between the terminals, the CTA station and the hotel had a number of murals.
With sunset coming before 5 PM local time, the airport was still busy as the sun set, providing great shots.
The great thing was the commute to the terminal took about 10 minutes to walk over, scoot through security and it was off to Tucson! But not before one last sunset photo.
In what seems to have become a fairly regular visit, we spent some time in Chicago around the holidays. While the majority are from 2022, a couple of the holiday photos are from previous years.
The CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) decorate an El Train for the holidays. We were fortunate enough once to be standing on the platform as it rolled through.
Always a couple of my favorite buildings are the two at Marina City. This close up shows the pattern that cause some to call them the ‘corn cob’ buildings.
The Van der Mies IBM building reflecting Marina City
The Wrigley Building – from a distance and a close up of the top.
The famed lateral bracing of the John Hancock Tower.
A riveting close up of the Dearborn Street Bridge.
A well decorated alley with those large Chicago fire escape stairs. This view is just off State Street near the theaters.
The Merchandise Mart is only 25 floors high, but with the footprint covering over 2 blocks it has 4 million square feet. When it was completed in 1930 it was the largest building in the world by square footage.
A Pink Line El Train crossing the river into the loop.
Chicago is a great city that is well worth the visit.
The Arizona Railway Museum is located in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler. While there are museums in the country that have larger collections, this museum’s is extensive enough to make the trip worthwhile.
The day we chose to go was an open house, with numerous railroad enthusiast groups onsite.
The rolling stock collection is well preserved or restored.
The Southern Pacific Railroad Locomotive 2562 is on the National Historic Registry.
Unusual for many railroad museum, the interiors are also in great shape. Since most came from the Southern Pacific or the Santa Fe they have the southwest look to them.
The Arizona Railway Museum is a great stop for more than train enthusiasts.
A few years worth of depot and station photos have been added, resulting in a very long posting.
Boise, Idaho – No longer used as a station.
Spokane, Washington – Just the clocktower remains from the Great Northern Station.
Wichita, Kansas – The old passenger terminal and the freight station are side by side.
Kansas City, Missouri
Tucson – Not only does Amtrak stop in Tucson, it does so at this classic building.
Phoenix – Unfortunately there is no passenger rail service in Phoenix, so the building is locked away.
Brooklyn, New York – Brighton Beach Station on the historic car day
San Isidro, Argentina – There are two stations here, one is on the more touristy Coastal Route
The main San Isidro station is on the Tigre-Retiro Line.
Retiro Train Station
Concepcion Train Station
Once Train Station
A Sampling of Subway Stations
For more detailed looks check out these postings.
Toronto – Streetcars
Depot in rail museum
Hamilton, Ontario – GO Station
Brooklyn, New York – MTA Museum. A former subway station (Court Street) is now the MTA Museum with a number of historic cars. The coolest subway platform in town.
Galveston, Texas – Santa Fe Railroad Station and Office Buildings. Now a rail museum.
New Orleans – The St Charles Streetcar
Washington – Union Station
Chicago – Union Station
Chicago El Stations
Howard El Station – Vintage Train waiting to take us to the Skokie CTA Shops
Quincy – Dating from 1897, the Quincy Station has been left fairly intact to original.
Pittsburgh – Penn Station
Manhattan – City Hall Station, Built 1904, Abandoned 1946.
Manhattan – PATH station in the World Trade Center Oculus.
The train to Hoboken
Jersey City – New Jersey Transit Light Rail – Newport Station
Columbus – near German Village – The High Street Streetcar Line Car House. Very nicely restored as a banquet facility.
On this Sunday morning they were setting up for something – so the door was open 🙂
Berea, Ohio Depot – Now a restaurant and tavern.
The Berea Depot sits along two major rail lines, and the parking lot had a number of die hard Railfans hanging out to watch the freight trains go blowing by. Apparently this spot in the best spot east of Chicago for those type of activities.
While in nearby Olmstead Falls is a small depot that was also once located next door in Berea.
It is part of a railroad themed shopping and entertainment complex.
Elyria, Ohio is a medium sized city, so they had a larger station. It too has recently been restored.
The Elyria station features some nice architectural touches.
Amherst, Ohio Depot.
As with many others it too is a community center.
Oberlin, Ohio is home to to Oberlin College – the oldest co-educational college in America, and second oldest in the world. It continues to be one of the highest ranked liberal arts colleges in America – in this tiny little northern Ohio town!
Their train depot is located in a small park.
It is nice to see how many towns have retained these historic buildings.
Just down the road in Wellington is the Lorain and West Virginia Railway Museum. While situated along the tracks, this depot was moved to the site.
The museum offers rail excursions.
The little town of New London, Ohio has a tiny little depot that has been moved to a local park.
Our last stop of the day was in Galion, Ohio. We came upon this great Queen Anne style station that was open for a ‘Doors Open’ event.
The station’s interior needs some work, but it is standing and seemingly solid.
The stone and brick building still features much of the canopy for waiting passengers.
This station was home to the ‘Big Four’ railroad – that connected Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus & St Louis (they must have skipped Indiana).
On our Labor Day weekend throughout the Midwest we visit a few stations that were along the way.
Battle Creek, Michigan
Three Oaks, Michigan – It is now an upscale clothing store in a tiny little tourist town.
Chicago – Union Station (Interiors)
Buffalo Central Terminal – There is a dedicated posting for this amazing station
Jersey City – This station is at the dock for the ferries to the Statue of Liberty. Currently unused, it appears to be being restored as part of Liberty State Park
St Louis – Union Station. Now a hotel and a shopping mall
Philadelphia – 30th Street Station
Boston – South Station
Denver – Union Station. I understand it has been restored since this photo was taken.
New York – Grand Central Terminal. I have amazingly few photos of this great terminal despite having been in and out of there numerous times.
Pittsburgh – Pennsylvania Station. Now luxury apartments.
The Amtrak station is connected, but in an ugly little building near the lower level
Dennison, Ohio – This nice little station has been restored into a museum.
Scranton, Pennsylvania – Steamtown National Historic Park has a great roundhouse that serves as the museum.
Also in Scranton is an old station.
Canon City, Colorado – The spectacular Royal Gorge Scenic Railroad station.
Greeley, Colorado – Centennial Village Union Pacific Depot
Bowling Green, Ohio Depot – now located at Dayton’s Carillon Park
Glendale, Ohio – Now serves at the Visitor Center
Dearborn, Michigan – Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford Museum.
Thurmond, West Virginia – Located in the New River Gorge National Park.
Fargo, North Dakota
Nelsonville, Ohio – Home of the Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad
Elmore, Ohio – Another visitor center
Bellville Depot – It has been restored and is now a rest stop along a ‘rails to trails’ path.
A stylish clock is on the other side of the path, facing a great looking bridge.
The overall scene of the Bellville depot.
The town of Mt Vernon has two passenger depots and a former freight building. The first building was a Baltimore & Ohio depot.
It actually sits along active tracks.
Used by the local community development organization, it is beautifully restored inside and out.
The second station, just a few blocks away is restored as well.
A passenger station for the Pennsylvania Railroad, it closely resembles the B &O station. If you have ever wondered why some towns have ‘Union Stations’ it is because of this, why have 2 stations – have a ‘union’ of railroads and build one.
The tracks here have been converted to a rails to trails as well.
The interior is fantastic.
Even the heating radiators are stylish.
We arrived at Granville in the pouring down rain, so I took a couple photos out the car window. As with many of the others, it is a stop on a rails to trails.
Leaving the rain we stopped in the tiny town of Alexandria, where the station has been moved a mile or so from it’s original location to a parking lot of a business.
The next day we headed to western Ohio to the town of South Charleston. This depot had the best of both worlds, it was on a bike trail going one way and an active track going the other way.
Across the tracks was a park with a couple of cabooses.
The small city of London, Ohio was our next stop.
The station here was along unused tracks, and appears to be owned by a club. The building appears to have been restored, but the area around the building is a bit shabby.
As with most of the medium size stations there is some character to the architecture.
I had read that a depot from the southern Ohio town of Bainbridge had been moved to a place called Greene’s Museum Village, but when we found it, the place looked overgrown and someplace I didn’t want to go knock on a door – so a photo from across the corn fields sufficed.
Finally back in Columbus we unexpectedly passed by some remnants of the streetcar years. This unused building is just north of downtown and was the business offices for the streetcar company.
A streetcar barn had been located across the street but has been torn down years ago.
I can’t believe someone hasn’t restored this great building.
On the east side of Columbus, near Franklin Park is the Kelton Avenue streetcar barn. Actually this is the repair shop, the storage barns have been torn down here as well.
I have added the rest of the streetcar remnants to my list of places to go see, so stay tuned for more in the future.
The Brice Station served a small town just east of Columbus, now it is part of an events center on the northwest side of town.
We were lucky enough to meet a Reverend who was getting ready for his Sunday morning services. He was more than happy to let us look around the nicely restored station.
In the back they have a dining car, that still functions as a dining car – it just doesn’t move.
The counter is a work of art.
Our next stop is owned by the same people, only located across town. It is called the Golf Depot, and serves as the restaurant and clubhouse for the golf course.
I was immediately impressed with the views. Central Ohio is very flat and I was surprised that we were on a small rise, with a skyline view and a view of the nearby airport.
Where did this hill come from you ask? It was a huge landfill/garbage dump that they have re-purposed into this golf course. As with the last depot, the train never stopped here, since there were never any tracks anywhere close to here.
They do celebrate their rail history with a mural.
The depot was moved in tact and placed on the course.
The restaurant has all of the original wood.
We were having such good luck finding great little depots we headed 30 miles away to the small town of Sunbury, Ohio. I had read they too had a station, and a model train exhibit inside. Unfortunately the station was covered in some hideous faux shake shingles.
It was located where the tracks were, but are now gone. In it’s place is a very nice rails to trails path. I was disappointed in the depot, but the hike made up for it.
We continued back toward the city by stopping in the small city of Delaware, Ohio where the list said there were 2 stations very close to each other. The list was correct, there was this small wooden depot.
Mostly hidden behind barbed wire fence.
And a larger one across the tracks.
That had warning signs of the hazardous conditions. So much for our good luck with finding cool little depots this day.
This small depot is located the Mad River and Nickel Plate Railroad Museum in Bellevue, Ohio.
The small station serves as a display area for the museum.
Bucyrus, Ohio is currently restoring their fine brick station.
We are looking forward to a return visit when it is completed.
Newark’s is already restored and serves as an office for a local business.
While a nearby mural celebrates their rail history.
The small town of Canal Winchester (so named because the Ohio and Erie canal went through the town before the railroads) has two stations – this one if for the Interurbans (regional trains).
It serves as a community center.
On the other side of town is a small depot for the mainline trains.
A small museum resides inside.
With a couple of restored cars outside.
The Marion station is one of the nicer ones. The exterior is in great shape, and the interior is not bad. A local rail fan club maintains the building.
Marion is located near multiple main freight lines and attract numerous rail fans.
The building has a classic look.
The nearby control tower oversees the activities.
In a Lima part there is a small depot called Lincoln Park. This small depot was located in a nearby town and moved to the park as part of the rail display.
It currently serves as offices for the park.
The Franklin County Fairgrounds is the home of the Hilliard Depot.
The National Road is more famous for automobile traffic, but this little depot served interurbans that eventually lost out to the cars.
Another small depot in the town of Pickerington.
Our last couple are more impressive stations. The Columbus and Toledo station on the near west side of Columbus is a great building with a pagoda look.
With the main Columbus station gone, it is fantastic that this one survived.
It currently serves as a union hall, but they rent it out for weddings and other events.
Finally – Cincinnati Union Terminal.
On of the best domes in the world, it is mostly used for a number of museums that make their home there.
But Amtrak does use a portion of the building.
Easily one of the best train stations in America, the woodwork is stunning.
Art deco at it’s finest. My plan is to update this posting as we visit more depots and stations around Ohio.
A recent Saturday was spent wandering the back roads of North Central Ohio from Columbus all the way to Lake Erie.
First stop was in the small town of Mt Gilead, the county seat of Morrow County. The old county jail dates from 1850.
Next door is a soldiers monument.
Next stop – Galion, where we checked out the old train station and theater.
The Huron County Courthouse clocktower in Norwalk.
At last – the Lake Erie shoreline in the town of Huron. The lighthouse was built in 1939, reflecting the style of the period.
Sandusky is the center of the lakeshore for this area. Home to what is generally acknowledged as the best amusement park in the world (Cedar Point), Sandusky relies heavily on tourism.
Starting back south we made a stop in Castalia, at the fish hatchery. Unfortunately it was closed, but the nearby creek has a number of well feed fish, along with some birds looking for lunch.
We passed through Bellevue and had the photo op of a very long, slow moving freight train passing the Mad River Railroad Museum – providing a contrast of the size of locomotive from the past and today.
Time to cruise on home, amazingly following the same vintage car southbound that we were behind for about 20 miles going north earlier.
As you travel around Ohio you will often see historical markers – there are 1700 of them scattered throughout the state. Using sound caution during these challenging times I spent a couple of hours running around the area finding markers that highlight the history of transportation in Central Ohio. This allowed me to start again the photo efforts, as well as history research, while avoiding people.
The National Road
Ohio was still wilderness in the late 1700s, inhabited by only Native Americans. When the Europeans arrived and started to push west from the eastern seaboard the state was one of the first destinations. The primary route for many of these settlers was the National Road.
In Ohio the National Road started on the western end of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge over the Ohio River. (this historic marker is from West Virginia)
Initially it was just a trail through the countryside. This non paved alley in a small Ohio town is the exact location of the trail.
The National Road had mile markers indicating how far you were from Cumberland, Maryland, the eastern terminus.
A number of the famed ‘S’ bridges were along the route. This one dates from the early days of the automobile.
This S Bridge dates from the pre-automotive days.
Of course as soon as you have people and transportation someone is going to go off course.
Not long after the National Road was first completed the canals started to be built. This transportation mode was the primary driver that lead Ohio to become the the 3rd most populated state by 1840, a position it would hold until Illinois passed it in 1900.
The canals opened up the interior of the state with connections to the Great Lakes and the Ohio River.
In addition to the main canals, there were ‘feeder canals’ branching off to spur industrial development.
The little village of Lockville has 3 locks in a short distance, as well as a vintage covered bridge that would’ve once crossed it.
The city of Groveport has restored their lock.
The town of Lockbourne is proud of their canal and lock heritage, although their one lock could us a bit of attention.
The canals had their heyday until the trains became prevalent in the 1850s.
While the mainline trains carried commerce and passengers across the state and beyond, Ohio became a center for the ‘Interurban’.
The Interurban served as a local transportation option between cities closely aligned, essentially the same as today’s commuter rail systems.
The map below shows how extensive the interurban network was in the state.
As one of the larger cities in the state, Columbus was a hub for the interurban transportation.
The line going south out of the city was known as the Scioto Valley Interurban.
Amazingly it had a third rail in the countryside (providing the power from a rail in the ground, not overhead wires). You would think that a number of cows became instant steaks by stepping on these…
The rails are still part of a street in the town of Groveport.
Canal Winchester has restored their Interurban station as a community center.
While nearby the town had a mainline train station.
While the Wright Brothers were the first developers of the airplane in nearby Dayton in the first decade of the 1900s, it took until 1923 for Columbus to have it’s first permanent air field.
It was named Norton Field, and as the historical marker indicates, was named after a Columbus native and World War I casualty John Norton. The opening was attended by Eddie Rickenbacker (more below on Eddie).
The field was located east of the city, just south of the current airport.
It was used primarily by the military, and was shut down as suburbia reached the area in the 1950s. Today the only reminder of it’s history (other than the marker) is the park in the neighborhood.
Just north of Norton Field is John Glenn Columbus International Airport, whose airport code is CMH – Columbus Metropolitan Hangar – the original name for the field.
The airport location was selected by Charles Lindbergh as the eastern terminus of the Transcontinental Air Transport. This unique design had passengers travel to Columbus from New York on the Pennsylvania Railroad.
From Columbus the passengers could fly to a town called Waynoka, Oklhoma, where they would again get on a train – this time to Clovis, New Mexico.
In Clovis they would again get on an airplane and fly on to Los Angeles.
The photo below clearly shows how close the train was to the airport. Note the T-A-T airplanes in the foreground – they later merged with Western Air Express to become TWA.
The entire concept was a disaster. In 18 months they lost $2.7m, was involved in the first plane crash on a regular commercial route, and eventually became involved in a scandal known as the Air Mail scandal.
But the airport survived. This photo looking southwest shows the field.
Norton Field is in the upper left grassy area, and on the center right is the construction of Curtiss-Wright Airplane factory. This factory built military aircraft until the 1988.
The original terminal sits unused in a distant corner of the airport.
A sign of the times are a number of currently mothballed aircraft – waiting for travel to return after COVID.
Eddie Rickenbacker grew up in this modest house on the east side of Columbus. From this start Eddie lead a most eventful life. He was a World War I fighter pilot – race car driver – automobile designer – and pioneer in air transportation, leading Pan Am Airlines.
Eddie’s name graces the former air force base turned freight airport – Rickenbacker International Airport.
Central Ohio has had a long history of transportation – perhaps a Hyperloop is next…
As we continue to be restricted to any travel the ‘virtual travel’ series is continuing with some history. This posting will detail the history of Chicago through maps and photographs, and take a look at what it looks like now.
In 1840 when New York City already had over 300,000 people, Chicago was just starting as a town with just a few thousand. By 1860 is was in the top 10 with over 100,000, and just 30 years later there was 1.1 million people and Chicago was ‘The Second City’, doubling in population from 1880 to 1890.
Celebrating Chicago through World’s Fairs
It was around this time that Chicago decided to make it’s presence known on the world stage by hosting a World’s Fair. Local leaders lobbied hard to land the right to host this fair with the federal government, winning out over New York, Washington and St Louis.
The site chosen, Jackson Park, provided the 600 acres required. The lead architect was the famed Daniel Burnham, who was a proponent of the ‘City Beautiful’ movement.
While most of the buildings were designed and built to be temporary, there are a few that remain to this day.
With all of the buildings built in a neo-classical design and painted the same color, it became known as The White City.
Getting to the Fair
With the incredible growth of the city from the end of the Civil War to 1890, Chicago’s transit struggled to keep up. Initially private companies had built horse drawn trolleys downtown. In 1892 the first of the famed El’s was completed from 39th Street (Pershing Road) to the Loop. The next year the Chicago and South Side Elevated Railway extended this to the fair site at Jackson Park.
The map below dates from the 1930s but clearly shows the line going south before turning left towards the lake, ending at Jackson Park. (Red Lines denote the El). This company failed not long after the fair ended because there was not enough ridership to maintain financial stability, being sold under foreclosure.
Of note this line was originally not electrified, the coaches were pulled by an engine.
The Chicago History Center has one of the original cars on display.
Green Line Train today
Also note the Midway Plaisance connecting Washington Park and Jackson Park (Green strip on map between the parks). This area was the Entertainment section of the park (more on this below).
Today the Green Line takes a very similar route, although the spur towards the lake only goes to Cottage Grove Avenue, and the southernmost branch is gone.
As noted in the photo description this is the entrance at the Midway Plaisance.
The map detail shows some of the highlights of this area, including the famed Ferris Wheel. While there had been a wooden wheel built in Atlantic City in 1891, but it burned down the next year.
Ferris’s wheel was to be Chicago’s answer to Paris’s Eiffel Tower. It was massive – 264 feet high, with a capacity of 2,160 passengers. So renown was this feature that for many years Ferris Wheel’s were known as ‘Chicago Wheels’
Today Chicago’s Navy Pier has one that, while impressive, is shorter than the original.
The Midway Plaisance today serves as a park area next to the University of Chicago. There are a few reminders of the fair.
The grounds and buildings were magnificent.
The Palace of Fine Arts was one of the few buildings built to remain after the fair.
It serves today as the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry
The Statue of the Republic Was the Centerpiece of the Basin.
While no longer surrounded by water it is one of the few remaining structures from the fair.
But Chicago had a second chance at a World’s Fair just 40 years later, when they hosted the Century of Progress, which ran from May 1933 until October 1934, taking the winter off.
But the city, and world, has had significant change since 1893.
The Auto Club sponsored ‘Routes’ with fair themed names for automobile travelers to come to the city. In addition they sponsored ‘Motor Villages’, campgrounds and motels on the outskirts of town,.
Despite the introduction of the automobile, train travel was still the primary way to get to Chicago.
This Conoco map shows an Illinois Central Railway Station at the entrance to the fair.
In addition to the station at the fairgrounds entrance, there were another 6 train stations downtown, including the commuter rail stations.
Today there are 3, two for the commuter rail and Union Station, and even that station is just a portion of what it was.
Union Station is still very nice, but this grand space above was torn down in 1969.
Once you were in town the El or streetcar network would take you to where you needed to go.
Including directly to the Fair.
Welcome to the Century of Progress World’s Fair entrance.
The skyride took passengers from the main entrance on Columbus Drive to the lake shore. In this photo the Field Museum and the skyline of downtown is clearly visible.
One of the features of the 1933 fair compared to 1893’s is that it was essentially downtown, whereas the Columbian Exposition was a couple of miles south of downtown.
The 1930s was the height of the Art Deco movement (a favorite of mine), and the advertising for the fair highlighted this.
The industrialists of the day had major exhibits. GM even built an assembly line.
You could see the homes of tomorrow.
After the fair an investor purchased the homes and moved them by barge to nearby Indiana, and placed them along the lake shore as an attraction to the community he was building.
Time was tough on the homes, but over the last 20 years or so the state of Indiana has sponsored a program where you can lease them for $1 with the stipulation you fix them up (which costs $1m +). The results are fantastic.
Many Chicago landmarks were part of the fair including Adler Planetarium
as well as the Field Museum and Soldier Field.
Chicago has always used their lake shore for the public’s enjoyment, never more so than during the two World’s Fairs. Part 2 of this series in a few days will focus more on the development of the transportation in the city.
While I have more years of Texas maps, I have more overall West Virginia maps as they published monthly in the 1940s.
1949 1958 1960 1963 1992 2010
West Virginia State Capitol (Photo from whereverImayroam.com)
When West Virginia was formed during the Civil War, it took years for them to settle on a permanent state capital Finally they decided Charleston is the place, and in 1932 completed this building.
State Firearm – Hall Flintlock Model 1819. This weapon was produced in Harpers Ferry.
Rivers and Streams
1937 – Potomac River South Branch 1940 February – Kanawha River 1941 September – New River Gorge and River 1954 – Randolph County Lake 1967 – New River Gorge and River 1986 1994 – New River Gorge and River
West Virginia has a number of rivers that served the coal industry for decades. One of those coal towns was Thurmond. Today it is a ghost town, but at one time was a center of coal production.
It is situated on the New River, which is an attraction for tourists and adventurers.
Huntington is the 2nd largest town in the state. It was founded as a railway center, and that history is celebrated with decorated model engines around downtown.
The most noteworthy is the one dedicated to those who died in the Marshall University Football team’s airplane crash in 1970.
Point Pleasant is an Ohio River town that live on the legend of the Mothman.
1939 January 1939 February 1940 May 1974 – White Sulfur Springs 1983 2002 – Coopers Rocks 2017
Cooper’s Rocks is a scenic area above Morgantown, near the Maryland border.
Helvetia was originally a Swiss colony far back in the Appalachian Mountains.
The Greenbrier has been a premier resort since 1778, with 27 of the 45 Presidents having visited.
West Virginia is all mountains and hills, with unique histories. One of those interesting places is Matewan, where a famed labor battle occurred.
Roads and Bridges
1940 January – Canaan Valley Route 32 1962 – Interstate 77 1965 1980 – New River Gorge Bridge 1990 2011 2014