I’ve Been Railroaded!

I’m a Facebook devotee, spending way too much time on the site. I’ve also studied a fair amount of Jamestown history, so I can frequently help people to understand how and why things have changed. A recent example was a reference to the “old” train station.

Jamestown had four train stations, so it’s necessary to specify which old station we’re talking about. The first train station was located on W. First Street, at the foot of Cherry Street. The two-story building was constructed of wood, by 1867, and served a couple of decades.

In 1887, a substantial brick train station was erected just east of the original station. The building was an imposing structure, with a three-story tower building and two 1-1/2 story extensions to the sides. Beyond the two side buildings were covered porches or work areas, giving the illusion of an even bigger building.
In the 1920s, it became necessary to address the growing safety concern. Trains came through Jamestown “at grade”, meaning the train and the street were on the same level. Vehicles and pedestrians didn’t fare well against trains, and trains were unable to stop quickly. In typical Jamestown fashion, we recognized the problem, but took time to address it. In the mid-1920s, the roadbed was raised about 10-15 feet. While this meant the trains were no longer a threat to civilians, it meant that viaducts had to be constructed for trains to pass over the streets and sidewalks. Jamestown viaducts include Buffalo Street, Winsor Street, Foote Avenue, and North Main Street. To further protect pedestrians, tunnels were created at Center Street, Institute Street, and Fairmount Avenue. Alas, the raising of the roadbed meant that the trains were about 10-15 feet higher than the station platform, so it was decided to replace the station, rather than adapt it or rebuild it in place.

Construction on the new station at 211 W. Second Street began in 1931 and was completed sometime in 1932. Since the old station couldn’t be used, and the new station wasn’t yet built, the Erie Railroad used a temporary station at approximately 401 W. Second Street, at the foot of Clinton Street.

The new, and last, station was a typical railroad beauty, with a deluxe marble-floored waiting room. Second Street is higher than First Street, so now the passenger section of the station was above the train. A double stairway allowed passengers to get down the two stories to the platform. The west stairway was replaced with an escalator. After passenger service was phased out, the station building was still used for freight for a time, then was used as a warehouse. It fell into disrepair, but was later refurbished. It is now used by the National Comedy Center.

Before 1860, Jamestown had no passenger train service. Now, Jamestown has no passenger train service, demonstrating the circle of life.

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment