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Photo of the Month - March 2008

Columbus Union Station Complex


Expand without numbers -- Expand with numbers

1 N. High Street/Arcade 11 NYC/B&O freight train bypass tracks
2 E.Naghten Street 12 PRR produce yard (Little Miami Yard)
3 N. Fourth Street 13 B&O freight house and yard
4 Terminal Way 14 B&O engine facilities
5 E. Swain Street 15 PRR freight house and yard 'C'
6 E. Goodale St. 16 NYC (Big Four) freight house
7 Union Station 17 American Railway Express Building
8 Concourse and platforms (8 tracks) 18 NYC team track possibly used by Railway Express
9 Union Station Boiler House 19 NYC "CD" yard office, trainmaster's office & crew room.
10 PRR freight train bypass tracks 20 NYC East Yard

Columbus Union Station and the surrounding railroad facilities are very busy in this January 7, 1949 photo.  Steam is king with seven steam engines and the smoke of an eighth easy to spot.  Photo from the Citizen-Journal Collection, courtesy of the Grandview Public Library.

        It was always hard to get perspective on Columbus Union Station.  The public approached it from North High Street, but what they saw was the arcade that lined both sides of High Street.  The station itself was tucked behind the arcade.  Once inside the station there were very few windows to view the rail scene outside.  Only the most devoted railfan would try and figure all this out.  This aerial view takes some of the mystery out of this confusing layout of tracks and buildings.

        When the CUS was built in 1897 the station entrance off High Street penetrated the High Street arcade through twin arches.   This may have worked well for horse drawn carriages, but automobile traffic created too much congestion for passengers trying to get to the station.  In 1928 the arches were removed and a second driveway leg leading to the station was added providing better traffic flow and even some parking.  In 1930-31 the original train shed was replaced with an enclosed concourse and umbrella style platform roofs.  This 1949 view clearly shows those changes.

        You can see that N. Fourth Street was busy with northbound traffic this late January afternoon.  Before I-71 was constructed in the early 1960's, Fourth Street was a main road for traffic to the north side of Columbus.  It could be a slow trip for the daily commuter.

        If you expand the picture you will be able to spot two overhead cranes, a water tower, and a scale track for weighting freight cars along with a very small scale house next to the track. 

        A photo taken today would show I-670 on the right and the Columbus convention center on the left.  Out of all the tracks shown in the photo all are gone except for two running tracks  used by CSX for the Budweiser Beer train traveling from Parsons Yard to Worthington and by the Ohio Central Railroad for access to Buckeye Yard on Columbus' west side. The Norfolk Southern Railroad also uses this track for some trains headed north on the old Sandusky Branch.