‘Let Hamilton keep its history’: Letter sets up effort to preserve 1860s railroad station

Mayor Pat Moeller doesn’t want CSX to demolish the historic train passenger station located along South Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
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Mayor Pat Moeller doesn’t want CSX to demolish the historic train passenger station located along South Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Mayor Pat Moeller doesn’t want CSX to demolish the historic train passenger station located along South Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the city after a recent notification by the company that it may do so.

“Give the train station to the city,” he wrote in an open letter about the station. “We will secure it. We will find groups to preserve it. Or, give it to an historic preservation group who will restore it.”

“We could call it the Lincoln-Truman-CSX Train Station. This train station does not inherently delay and interfere with the railroad’s interstate commerce.”

On Feb. 4, Amanda DeCesare, CSX project manager for public projects, wrote the city about the facility.

“The passenger station has recently been evaluated for future demolition by CSXT,” she wrote. “This letter serves as notice that any desire by the City of Hamilton to preserve this station must be formally presented to CSXT by Feb. 28, 2020. If no notice is received, the station will be demolished.”

Contacted at her Cincinnati office, DeCesare said she was not authorized to speak to the news media. Authorized CSX spokespeople did not respond to a request for comment prior to deadline.

The station was built for the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad, also known as the CH&D Railroad, around 1862, according to a letter Timothy L Gillespie of Hamilton History Depot wrote Moeller, Vice Mayor Eric Pohlman and the rest of the council.

CH&D had begun service through the city in September, 1851. The local organization Citizens for Historic And Preservation Services (CHAPS) has the building on its list of endangered important structures.

Moeller noted at Wednesday’s Hamilton City Council meeting that some World War I soldiers returned to Hamilton as heroes at the station, while others who were slain returned to tears from their families.

He suggested the names of Lincoln and Truman because Abraham Lincoln spoke in Hamilton about the “curse of slavery” in 1859 shortly before becoming president, and Harry S. Truman also gave a speech as president near the station in 1948.

Explore Local history: Abe Lincoln spoke in Hamilton

“Great people and great minds, from governors to engineers, have built and championed the structure,” Moeller wrote.

Pohlman thanked him for writing the letter and agreed the station is worth saving, although he also acknowledged, as Moeller had, that the task won’t be easy.

In Gillespie’s letter, he wrote, “The citizens of our great community along with preservation groups, railroad history enthusiasts, and educators see a great need to save this building. The seniority of this building in our community and its “recognition factor” will be a great economic asset. The building has character and historical associations.”

Gillespie said private money and restoration grants are available, adding he believes if the station is repurposed properly it “can be a true focal point for what the railroad means to our city, past and present.”

“Our children deserve to learn and explore our local history and also to see and touch the objects that our forefathers left to us to care for,” Gillespie wrote.

Moeller noted during the meeting that in the past year Butler County preservationists and others accomplished the unlikely feat of saving the “Fortified Hill” earthworks in Ross Twp. that are believed to have been built by the Hopewell people about 2,000 years ago.

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Moeller also wrote in his letter, “This place … this train station … matters to us. It is your train station, but it is also our train station. The train station is part of us. John Steinbeck once stated, ‘How will we know it’s us without our past?’ Keeping historical structures living and breathing for future citizens to see, touch, and hear are teaching moments.

“Please accept this letter as a formal notice of our intent to preserve the historic train station. Let Hamilton keep its history.”

Meanwhile, a recent effort to convert a nearby train depot at 1000 Maple Ave. into a farmer’s market and other related uses was unsuccessful.


Historic Hamilton Railroad Station

Some facts about Hamilton’s historic train station, according to Timothy L Gillespie of Hamilton History Depot:

  • It was built for the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad, also known as the CH&D Railroad, around 1862. The railroad had begun service through the city in September, 1851.
  • Hamilton's planning department included the station in its 1986 publication of historic architecture and history.
  • The local group Citizens for Historic And Preservation Services (CHAPS) has the building on its list of endangered important structures.