Sunday, November 27, 2016

A peek inside the depot

Lil' Nick and I have visited the Amboy railroad depot several timers but each time we did always found it closed. On a recent trip up there we were lucky to see the Open sign in the window.

The Illinois Central and Amboy go back a long way together.  There were shop facilities for the repair of rolling stock. There was maintenance facilities for light repairs. And there was the headquarters for the region was built there. Authorized in 1854, the Illinois Central built a terminal/depot/hotel on site and operated it for over 20 years.  The original structure was enlarged during the Civil war in 1863 but even with the additions it was deemed as too small. Things might have turned out differently had not Fate intervened in  1873 when a fire destroyed the headquarters building and the hotel/depot. The railroad decided to build an entirely new structure combining and enlarged headquarters with a new depot and left the hotel out of the picture.

For another 20 plus years operations at Amboy hummed along nicely but by 1894 traffic patterns had changed and Amboy no longer had as important a role as it once had.  The headquarters were closed and the repair shops were mostly abandoned and relocated, though the depot remained open to handle passenger service. It remained in service up to 1939 when passenger service was finally discontinued and the trains rerouted thru Dixon.

It saw a brief resurgence during World War 2 and the Korean war as a transfer point for ammunition constructed at the nearby Green River ordnance plant. In the 1980's the railroad announced it was going to tear down the old building but an effort by the village of Amboy saved the structure and it was turned into a museum.  The day nick and I were there there was a steady line of people coming and going, wandering thru the various rooms and admiring the displays.  Many thanks to Nick for going up to the second floor and snapping the photo's I couldn't get to.

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