CSX allows Hamilton time to save historic train station

CSX has agreed not to tear down the train station at 432 Martin Luther King Blvd. for a year, historians and others were told at a recent meeting Mayor Pat Moeller convened to mobilize efforts to save the station.

“They’ve got an agreement with CSX to not start demolition for another year,” said Tim Spoonster, who has researched the station’s history and was among history advocates and others who attended the meeting.

“That gives us some time to gather some steam, get some energy behind it and also see what happens with the passenger-train component.”

Advocates of increased passenger-train routes hope Congress will approve capital spending that would allow five more routes in Ohio, including more stops in Butler County for a route linking Cincinnati with Indianapolis and Chicago, and another connecting Cincinnati with Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland.

One possible location for the move would be Symmes Park, two blocks west of the current location, said Spoonster, who wrote a history of the station at the mayor’s request. The rail next to the park, which is located between Third and Fourth streets, is on the route between Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Both Oxford and Hamilton are hoping Amtrak will add stops in their cities if routes are expanded.

Based on the first two estimates that were offered, it would cost about $300,000 to move the station and another $300,000 to rehabilitate the building, Spoonster said.

Spoonster said advocates now are seeking grants and other funding sources. Moeller and council members Eric Pohlman and Michael Ryan are leading the city’s efforts.

Spoonster in his research learned Hamilton was the site of more whistle-stop presidential campaigns than current officials had realized.

Abraham Lincoln’s visit here was well-known. But two presidents visited in 1952 alone, Spoonster learned: Outgoing president Harry S. Truman campaigned here in 1952 on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson of Illinois. Also campaigning in Hamilton by train that year was the Republican candidate, and ultimate victor, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Other presidents who visited Hamilton by rail were presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, Spoonster found.

People interested in helping save the station can contact savethehamiltondepot@gmail.com.

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