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Big Four Depot to be Demolished
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   Author  Topic: Big Four Depot to be Demolished  (Read 1200 times)
OldMojo
TRAINing
Posts: 5
Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« on: Mar 12th, 2004, 6:28pm »
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Hello everyone,
 
I have never posted on this forum before, but I have lurked often. Unfortunately, my first post must be about another tragic loss of railroad history in my hometown.  
 
Mattoon Illinois was established as a railroad town at the crossing of the Illinois Central and the Terre Haute & Alton in the 1850s. It is named for William Mattoon, construction engineer for the TH&A. This line eventually became part of the Big Four Railroad, which built an impressive Beaux-Arts passenger depot in 1917 when the Illinois Central dropped its tracks below street level nearby. The depot continued to serve the New York Central after it absorbed the Big Four in 1929, until passenger service on this line ended in 1964. It has been all but forgotten since then, and its fate was sealed after Conrail abandoned the line in 1985 and the tracks were pulled. As far as I know, this station is the last remaining structure from the Big Four/NYC on this line.
 
 



 
Although vacant for 40 years, as you can see there is nary a brick out of place.
 
The city and the current owner say it is structurally unsound and want to replace it with (you guessed it) parking.
 
Read the news article here.
http://www.jg-tc.com/articles/2004/03/08/news/news03.txt
 
The Illinois Central Depot next door is finally being restored after years of neglect. It seems that the Big Four is being offered up as the sacrificial lamb, when it really should be considered complimentary to the project. Where else are there two historic stations, built  at the same time by different roads, sitting right next to each other?!
 
Though it is the 11th hour, I hope that something may yet be done to save this long neglected treasure. Should there be anyone on this board with any experience with projects like this, any advice or suggestion would be appreciated.  
 
Please respond to:
savethebig4@yahoo.com
 
Thanks  
 
Terry


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ipls3355
TRAINing
Posts: 1
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #1 on: Mar 14th, 2004, 10:55am »
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Please visit:
 
http://home.mchsi.com/~rankin/big4.html
 
for more information on the history of railroads in Mattoon
 
Chris


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hummel1237
Historian
Posts: 4885
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #2 on: Apr 7th, 2004, 11:35pm »
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What an interesting looking place, too bad...
 
Jim...  


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OldMojo
TRAINing
Posts: 5
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #3 on: Apr 11th, 2004, 2:43pm »
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Sadly, demolition took place this week. I'm convinced that the owner of the building heard of our effort and advanced the demolition schedule to prevent any rescue. We've included a gallery of pics at the website.
 
http://home.mchsi.com/~rankin/big4.html
 
Weak stomachs beware.
 

 
 
 
If anyone has a similar situation, if there is an old station or other abandoned structure in your town that you would like to see restored,learn from our experience and ACT NOW! While everyone loves restored buildings, they have few friends when they're dilapidated. Longevity counts for nothing The Big Four stood in a forgotten corner of town for 40 years, but was gone in a matter of weeks with barely a whisper raised in protest from the community.
 
Ignorance & apathy remain alive and well.
 
ACT!!!


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Alco83

Posts: 3828
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #4 on: Apr 11th, 2004, 2:56pm »
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Sorry to hear about this sad news.   Check another historic treasure, lost to the wrecking ball and those without an appreciation for history, off the list...

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DannyR

Posts: 3803
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #5 on: Apr 11th, 2004, 11:14pm »
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OldMojo-
 
Sorry to read about this piece of history lost forever. You and your group, however, are to be commended for a valiant effort to preserve the Big Four Depot nevertheless. Maybe not a victory this time but it is efforts by individuals such as yourself that do prevent some of these irreplacable structures from keeping a date with the wrecking ball.


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Henry
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Posts: 6122
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #6 on: Apr 12th, 2004, 9:35am »
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I can't put into words how I feel after seeing the photos of the demolition. I want to beat on the person responsible for doing that.
 
Henry


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Charlie_O
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Posts: 5797
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #7 on: Apr 12th, 2004, 7:51pm »
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OldMojo, thank you for providing that postcard view and a bit of history on the depot.  
 
I know almost nothing about that area, but from the sturdy looks of the building, it surely seems as if it could have been converted successfully for a variety of uses...office complex, apartments, movie theater, shops, youth center, police station.  
 
As a Philadelphian I've had to learn the sad addage that "If it ain't Colonial, it ain't worth saving."  So many beautiful Victorian and Queen Anne structures (including Frank Furness' B&O station) have disappeared from the Philly landscape.  
 
Sad to see this loss of RR history.  I can't help but wonder what the country would look like if developers and local governments could make preservation of these structures a priority.
 
-Charlie


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Some days, the most interesting person you meet is a river with a train running beside it.
George_Harris
Historian
Posts: 3826
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #8 on: Oct 8th, 2004, 3:22am »
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Know this is old, but I usually do not wander through here.  
 
This is not the only horrible example.  The 1850's Choctaw Route freight depot in Little Rock, Arkansas was demolished to make way for the Clinton library.  Not sure there is another pre-Civil War building left in the city.  The building was in use up to at least the 1960's and was structurally in reasonably good shape.  Nothing was saved.  Again, when it was realized that a preservation effort was being mounted, it was demolished quickly.  heavy timbers and othe unique details literally bulldozed into slpinters and rubble.


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NKP759fan
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Posts: 1712
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #9 on: Aug 11th, 2005, 5:04am »
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Why isnt anyone saving these buildings, this is ridiculous already. I would have chained myself to that building and tried to save it. I guess preservation is not a word that alot of people know.  

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Nickel Plate Road "Berkshire" #759
Built: August 1944
Builder: Lima Locomotives Works
Driver diameter: 69 inches
Boiler Pressure: 245
Coal: 22 tons
Water: 22,000 gallons
Retired: 1958
Used on the famous High Iron Excursions
http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/steamtown/shs2o.htm
ErieAtlantic7597
Historian
Posts: 5838
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #10 on: Aug 11th, 2005, 8:48am »
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  NKP, your right. Preservation is not the word. The word in todays world is  
$$$ MONEY $$$. Like it or not, that is the driveing force. I know I don't like this fact and I'm fairly sure that most us on these forums don't like this fact. But without good, solid, contant finances dedicated for preservation, the buildings, the rail cars, and the locomotives that we so highly prize, eventually go to the great beyond.
   Railroad structures in particular are in danger. They always seem to be in the way of what some call progress. I'm afraid that as time marches on, we will see more of this kind of destruction.
 
       Sadly,
 
       Bruce


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NKP759fan
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Posts: 1712
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #11 on: Aug 11th, 2005, 12:56pm »
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Hey ErieAtlantic,
 Money it seems is everything these days to people. I don't see it as the most important thing. History is priceless. Why can't contractors utilize the railroad building for a different purpose, keep the building just make it conform to your needs. I am sick of it already. Without knowing the past you don't know the future, and without preserving the past you can't experience it in the future.


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Nickel Plate Road "Berkshire" #759
Built: August 1944
Builder: Lima Locomotives Works
Driver diameter: 69 inches
Boiler Pressure: 245
Coal: 22 tons
Water: 22,000 gallons
Retired: 1958
Used on the famous High Iron Excursions
http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/steamtown/shs2o.htm
ErieAtlantic7597
Historian
Posts: 5838
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #12 on: Aug 11th, 2005, 1:54pm »
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  NKP,
 
   I know how you feel. Especially because I'm an older guy, and I've seen so much of the history of where I came from get bulldoozed over.Paterson,NJ was not only a busy railroad junction, but many, many steam locomotives were built there. Two of the most famous being the Texas and the General. And that history along with almost all of the buildings connected with the manufacture of steam locomotives is gone. To best of my knowledge, only the Rogers Locomotive building still stands.
There were about five steam engine companys in Paterson at one time.  
   I'm very fortunate that I decided to live in SW Florida. For a number of reasons. One being that within less than a hundred miles, there are four former passenger stations and one freight station. Two pure ACL passenger, one pure Seaboard passenger, one Seaboard freight, and one station in Naple, Fl. that started out life as a Seaboard passenger station and ended up as an ACL station.  
   All of these buildings are being used for other purposes as you mentioned. But they have been saved. And, for the most part, their looks have not been compromised. Sorry for goin on so. I'm very passionate about this subject. I was involved somewhat with the saveing of the beautiful Atlantic Coast Line station in Ft. Myers back in the late seventys. It took determination and dedication to prevail against the bulldoozers.
 
           Take care,
 
       Bruce


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NKP759fan
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Posts: 1712
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #13 on: Aug 13th, 2005, 7:45am »
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Hey Erie,
 I don't know if your familiar with the Lackawanna Station Hotel in Scranton, Pa. It was built by the DL&W in 1908 at a cost of 500,000. It is 7 stories tall(I think, it may be . But in the late 70's when the EL collapsed and was taken over by Conrail the station was abandoned. For a good ten years the station was left to the vandals. Then in the mid 80's a group of people bought the station and completely refurbished it. The station has marble all over, granite, fountains, tiffany glass, and today it is the nicest hotel in maybe all of the Northeast, maybe not all of the northeast but I think it is.   I'm just happy it's preserved and am happy that most of the passenger stations are still standing on the former Pocono main.


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Nickel Plate Road "Berkshire" #759
Built: August 1944
Builder: Lima Locomotives Works
Driver diameter: 69 inches
Boiler Pressure: 245
Coal: 22 tons
Water: 22,000 gallons
Retired: 1958
Used on the famous High Iron Excursions
http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/steamtown/shs2o.htm
ErieAtlantic7597
Historian
Posts: 5838
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #14 on: Aug 15th, 2005, 9:04am »
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  NKP,
 
   Some where in another thread I mentioned that I have had the great opportunity to stay for a couple of nights in the the wonderful Scranton Lackawanna station hotel. It is an expierience that I won't soon forget. I visited Steamtown in "02", and made the decision to stay at the hotel right there. I'm sure glad I did to this day.
   It takes a lot of not ONLY determination to save a building like that but ALSO a good deal of MONEY. The people that all pulled together to save such a historic building should be congradulated.  As I have also stated elswhere, don't just take pictures of this great building. Go in there, have breakfast there, buy something from their gift shop. If you can, stay a night there. This all helps to support the businesses that keep this magnificent structure open and maintained.
   I feel very strongly about this subject, as you can tell, I'm sure.
 
         Take care,
 
         Bruce


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RARITAN_CLOCKER
Former Member
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #15 on: Aug 15th, 2005, 9:36am »
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† † † † † † † † †....HOW many MORE historical railroad stations MUST be demolished before the powers that be get wise to the loss of our rich railroad history? The government seems to have NO shortage of money when it comes to funding such asinine projects as teaching mice to surf (I kid you not!!) or studying the mating habits of the common housefly, but, there is NEVER any for the preservation of our historical rail stations.  WE'VE LOST TOO MUCH ALREADY!! Truly, we live in a "THROW-AWAY SOCIETY"!

« Last Edit: Aug 15th, 2005, 9:36am by RARITAN_CLOCKER » Logged
NKP759fan
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Posts: 1712
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #16 on: Aug 18th, 2005, 2:20pm »
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Throw Away Society is exactly right. Build more shopping malls and gas stations and banks is the attitude of today's American businessmen, do not save historic buildings is there motto.  Also with the National Register of Historic Places thing, they back out once the building gets to a point that it seems that it cannot be saved, they should help restore it if possible if not what is the point to that? I really have nothing else to say about this because it just ticks me off.

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Nickel Plate Road "Berkshire" #759
Built: August 1944
Builder: Lima Locomotives Works
Driver diameter: 69 inches
Boiler Pressure: 245
Coal: 22 tons
Water: 22,000 gallons
Retired: 1958
Used on the famous High Iron Excursions
http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/steamtown/shs2o.htm
icsd701000
Railfan
Posts: 110
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #17 on: Dec 30th, 2005, 11:20pm »
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There was a fight put out to keep this but to no avail . It was all cleared out for parking and future space. The bridge that crossed the IC as well has been removed. This use to be a favorite spot to watch for me.

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IC Peoria sub railfan mp 97.5
inch53
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Posts: 28
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #18 on: Nov 15th, 2007, 11:25am »
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OldMojo, I just found this thread and wanted to let you know there is one more station built by the Big 4 left around over in Pana IL
http://www.trainboard.com/railimages/showphoto.php/photo/70286/ppuser/4309
http://www.trainboard.com/railimages/showphoto.php/photo/70285/ppuser/4309
The station appears not be in to a bad a shape, but the old freight building really needs help.
Itís to far away for me to do much though.
I was sure sorry to hear of the Big 4 depot coming down and that you folks are hanging on to the IC.
Mike


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My photos
http://www.trainboard.com/railimages/showgallery.php/cat/500/ppuser/4309
rwk
Historian
Posts: 708
Re: Big Four Depot to be Demolished
 
« Reply #19 on: Nov 16th, 2007, 12:47am »
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In my area, Allentown, PA preserved the ex-CNJ/Reading station, it was a restaurant from 1981 on, closed and reopened, then became a bar/club, now it closed due to a shooting. Hope it doesn't have a bleak future. No tracks go past the station anymore since the CNJ and LV RR had seperate passenger and freight mains through Allentown and the CNJ passenger main was lifted probably in the 60's (before I was born, I was born Jan 1974). The LV RR station in Allentown was razed in the 60's since the last passenger train Maple Leaf from Buffalo to Newark was Feb. 1961. A single track is still there, and it was used by the Conrail/SEPTA Bethlehem commuter train in 1978/79 to Philadelphia the stop was by Union St. crossing (south of Hamilton St. bridge) at the former LV station concrete platform. It was eliminated Sept. 1979 due to poor ridership from Allentown. The Bethlehem service was terminated after June 30, 1981 and the last train left Quakertown on July 26, 1981 but freight trains still run up to Quakertown. BTW, the Quakertown station was saved, as well as most of the stations along the line toward Philly. And the Bethlehem LV/Reading station was saved, it was vacant since 1960 and recently became a medical center although the former Reading tracks behind the station were removed behind the station and the single track through South Bethlehem was removed as far as the PB&NE yard. The CNJ station in Bethlehem is a restaurant. Tracks go by both stations although the CNJ track only goes so far east before ending and is gone from there to Easton.

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