Journal-News, Sunday, April 7, 1991
Residents wary about 1883 standard time change
By Jim Blount
The annual time change here — from Eastern Standard to Eastern Daylight — is simple in comparison with the 1883 switch to four national time zones.
Effective at noon, Sunday, Nov. 18, 1883, the United States was divided into four time zones, then called Atlantic, Central, Mountain and Pacific.
That change was enacted by agreement of most of the nation's railroads, not the United States government. It was intended to eliminate the wide discrepancies in time standards, most noticeable in the rail travel.
Before the change, there was a "crazy-quilt pattern of hundreds of different local times," said John F. Stover, a railroad historian.
"When it was noon in Chicago, it was 11:27 a.m. in Omaha, 11:50 in St. Louis, 12:09 in Louisville, 12:17 in Toledo and 12:31 in Pittsburgh," said Stover in explaining the uncoordinated time situation.
"In fact," wrote Stover, "in Pittsburgh there were six different times for the departure and arrival of trains" because railroads determined their own time standard.
The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, for example, used Baltimore time for trains starting there, Columbus time for Ohio trains and Vincennes, Ind., time for its runs west of Cincinnati.
In November 1883 there were five railroads operating more than 95 miles of track in Butler County. They included three running through Hamilton — the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton, the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Indianapolis and the Cincinnati, Richmond & Chicago.
The CH&D, the busiest of the lines serving this area, was operating 42 passenger trains a day through Hamilton.
A few days before the time switch, the Hamilton Telegraph said a local annoyance was that "the trains are advertised here on Columbus time and in Cincinnati on local time."
Another article explained that Columbus time was 28 minutes slower than the new Central Standard Time, which would include all of Ohio.
Standard Time was the idea of William F. Allen, managing editor of the Official Guide of the Railways and secretary of the General Time Convention. Allen, who promoted the concept to railroad executives, introduced the idea in 1881, but it wasn't accepted by the railroads until October 1883.
Allen's plan, according to Stover, was "zones based on the 75th. 90th, 105th and 120th meridians" west of Greenwich, or the approximate longitudes of Philadelphia, Memphis, Denver and Fresno.
There was still confusion after Nov. 18, 1883, because some communities continued to adhere to their "city time" instead of the four-zone railroad system. In Cincinnati and Hamilton, city time was 22 minutes faster than train time.
However, another report said the difference between Hamilton time and the new railroad schedules was seven minutes and urged residents who didn't want to miss train connections to turn back their clocks and watches by seven minutes.
"The difference is so great that the new standard time will not be adopted as the local time," reported a Hamilton newspaper.
Congress passed the Standard Time Act March 19, 1918, officially creating four zones and giving the Interstate Commerce Commission the responsibility for setting the zones.
The ICC has authorized some local changes since 1918. In January 1927, for example, the cities of Hamilton, Cincinnati and Middletown were successful in petitioning the ICC to order railroads operating through the cities to use Eastern time instead of Central time. The three cities followed suit.
The ruling meant trains on the B&O (formerly the CH&D) between Cincinnati and Toledo would run on Eastern time. Before the edict, the cities of Hamilton and Cincinnati already used Eastern time while Middletown had remained on Central Time.
# # #
Journal-News, Sunday, April 14, 1991
Pennsylvania Railroad depot enhanced Hamilton
(This is the first of two columns on Hamilton railroad stations.)
By Jim Blount
A 102-year-old Hamilton railroad station disappeared earlier this year when the Norfolk Southern — without pubic notice — suddenly ordered its demolition. The building -- located west of S. Seventh Street and south of High Street -- was described as "one of the finest in the city, a credit to the company and an ornament to the city" when its plans were disclosed in December 1887
The station served passengers on a succession of railroads, including the Pan Handle, the Cincinnati, Richmond & Chicago, the Pennsylvania and finally the Penn Central.
In its final 20 years (1971-1991) — under the ownership of Conrail, Norfolk & Western and Norfolk Southern — it was used by railroad employees, not as a passenger station.
The original line, known as the Pan Handle Railroad, was built between Cincinnati and Hamilton in 1887 and 1888 with passenger service starting before completion of the depot.
"The building will be built of pressed brick and will be trimmed with heavy cut stone," said a December 1887 description.
The general contractor was I. N. Drury of Richmond, Ind. The pressed brick was supplied by James Thomas. The stonework was by Driver Brothers, who obtained the stone from Woodsdale on the Great Miami River between Hamilton and Trenton.
"The building will be 114 feet long by 44 feet at its widest points," according to the 1887 description. The middle section, the widest part, was to be two stories.
"The telegraph office will be in the second story, where also will be some rooms devoted to various uses of the company," the announcement said.
"The windows in the lower story will consist of one large glass in the lower sash while the upper portion will be filled with stained glass.
"The middle 18 feet will extend beyond the walls upon each side" and "in one of these extensions will be located the ticket office, and in the other a package room, fitted up with boxes and shelves," said the 1887 report.
Two passenger waiting rooms — one at each end of the building — were each to be 31 by 28 feet.
"At one end of the building, next to the gentlemen's waiting room, the baggage department will be located. At the other end of the building, adjoining the ladies' room, the express department will be provided for," the report said.
"The roof will be of slate and will be broken in many places by ornamental dormer windows.
"The roof will project very much and will form a good covering for the major portion of the platform," which extended 22 feet between the building and the tracks.
The Pan Handle began using the station in June 1888 — two before its completion -- when Hamilton rail travelers were served by 15 trains a day, seven running southeast from and eight northwest.
Trains headed northwest linked the Hamilton depot with Eaton, Richmond, Muncie, Kokomo, Chicago, Grand Rapids and other cities. Southeast trains terminated in Cincinnati, where connections could be made with trains bound for Columbus, Cleveland, New York and other eastern points.
Within a few years, Hamilton was a daily stop for as many as 70 passenger trains on three railroads using two local depots.
Railroad passenger business, here and elsewhere, began declining after the end of World War II in 1945.
When mail cars were eliminated in the late 1960s, most passenger trains on the Cincinnati-Chicago line included one locomotive pulling a single coach.
The last Chicago-bound train (Penn Central No. 65) left at 9:12 Friday morning, April 30, 1971. At 6:15 that evening, the final train for Cincinnati (No. 66) departed, ending nearly 83 years of scheduled passenger service at the station.
In the mid 1970s, the City of Hamilton tried to buy or lease the structure for development, possibly as a restaurant, but union rules and legal obstacles killed the plan.
# # #
Journal News, Sunday, April 21, 1991
Surviving Hamilton rail station over 100 years old
(This is the last of two columns on Hamilton railroad stations.)
By Jim Blount
Hamilton's only remaining railroad station — a small portion of which serves six Amtrak trains a week — opened nearly 106 years ago, just in time for the peak of local rail passenger traffic. The building on S. Fifth Street [now Martin Luther King Blvd.] at Henry Street was built in 1885-1886 by the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad.
For many years, it served both the CH&D and the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Indianapolis Railroad, a CH&D subsidiary.
The station was constructed on a triangular plot formed where the Indianapolis line split from the north-south tracks of the CH&D.
In 1902, the CH&I became the Cincinnati, Indianapolis & Western and in 1917 the CH&D and CI&W were absorbed by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. The B&O eventually evolved into the Chessie System and in recent years became CSX Transportation.
In November 1887, at the peak of local rail travel, the station accommodated 50 passenger trains a day — an average of more than two per hour.
During that month, the CH&D and the CH&I offered direct service from Hamilton to Indianapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo and Detroit.
In August 1887, George T. Earhart, the CH&D agent in Hamilton, reported 8,432 tickets sold here, a total which didn't include discount tickets between Cincinnati and Hamilton.
Earhart said it "would require a train consisting of 170 coaches" to carry the 8,432 passengers who departed from the Hamilton station that month.
During special events in the Queen City, passengers could travel between Hamilton and Cincinnati at the CH&D excursion rate of only one cent a mile — or 50 cents for a round trip.
For those who wanted a longer trip (105 miles each way), the CH&I offered a Sunday afternoon Hamilton-Indianapolis round trip for $1.25.
When it opened, the busy station included separate waiting rooms for men and women, spacious restrooms, a lunchroom and kitchen and offices and storage areas for ticket sales, telegraph, baggage and express services.
Charles Crapsey, a Cincinnati architect, planned the depot which was built by Bender and Brothers, Hamilton contractors, around a deteriorating structure.
According to the station plans, announced in October 1885, "the waiting room for ladies will be heated by a furnace placed in the cellar, but in the ladies room at the south end will be built an immense fireplace in which wood will be burned.
"This will be done not for any special heating purposes," said the announcement, "but to make a cheerful and inviting appearance. It will be a pleasant innovation and one that will be appreciated by the traveling public."
By contrast, today's Amtrak customers — who board at either 3:15 a.m. or 4:30 a.m. — have access to a waiting room which is only slightly larger than a standard closet.
Amtrak's Cardinal runs through Hamilton three times a week in each direction on its route connecting Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York.
The Fifth Street station was out of the passenger business for several years when Amtrak was launched in 1971, interrupting nearly 120 years of service to Hamilton over the CH&D and its successor lines.
The last scheduled northbound B&O passenger train (No. 54) left the depot at 10:47 a.m. Friday, April 30, 1971, on its run from Cincinnati to Dayton, Toledo and Detroit. Its southbound counterpart (No. 53), consisting of a diesel locomotive and two passenger coaches, departed at 3:25 p.m. the same day.
Scheduled B&O passenger service on the line between Hamilton and Indianapolis had ended 21 years earlier in 1950.
Passenger service resumed Aug. 3, 1980, when the Cardinal began stopping at the station, two years after Amtrak had rerouted it through Hamilton.
# # #
Journal News, Sunday, April 28, 1991
Amtrak passenger service is 20 years old
By Jim Blount
A 120-year era climaxed Friday evening, April 30, 1971, with the end of scheduled railroad passenger service through Hamilton. The next day, May 1, Amtrak took over the shrinking business of hauling people from 20 rail companies and cut the number of trains in half overnight.
It would be nine years and several train changes and line abandonments later before resumption of service to Hamilton.
Amtrak — or the National Railroad Passenger Corporation — was created by the U. S. Congress in 1970 to maintain a national passenger network linking the nation's major cities.
The government-backed system was formed because of increasing requests from railroads to abandon costly passenger operations. Losses were estimated at $200 million that year.
In its first year, Amtrak projected a loss of $110 million as it planned to run 182 passenger trains over 20,600 miles of track connecting 314 cities.
Dropped were 178 trains operated by 20 member railroads. Among those eliminated were six which served Butler County, including four daily trains that stopped in Hamilton and two that served Middletown. Those six trains — which made their last runs Friday, April 30, 1971 — were:
Southbound Penn Central 77 at 8:02 a.m. and northbound No. 78 at 5:02 p.m. from Middletown over the former New York Central line connecting Cincinnati, Cleveland and New York.
From Hamilton, northbound Baltimore & Ohio 54 at 10:47 a.m. and southbound 53 at 3:25 p.m. on the B&O mainline between Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo and Detroit.
Also from Hamilton, northbound Penn Central 65 at 9:12 a.m. and southbound 66 at 6:10 p.m. on a Cincinnati-Chicago route.
Amtrak went into operation less than six hours after the departure of No. 66 from the S. Seventh St. station in Hamilton. Its official start was 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 1, 1971.
Amtrak continued Cincinnati-Chicago service, but the route was over former New York Central tracks through Indiana, not the former Pennsylvania Railroad through Hamilton.
That Amtrak train — then called the James Whitcomb Riley — was moved in 1974 to the former Chesapeake & Ohio route through southwestern Butler County.
In August 1978 the Chessie System abandoned the southern end of that line from Cincinnati west through Cheviot to a point near Fernald.
That forced Amtrak to relocate the Cardinal, a name assumed in 1977 because it was the state bird in six states on the train's route between Chicago and Washington.
The new route was through Hamilton, but the train didn't stop at the local station. Amtrak wasn't authorized to board or unload passengers between Cincinnati and Richmond, Ind.
It operated over the former Baltimore & Ohio mainline from Cincinnati to Hamilton where it followed the old B&O Indianapolis line through Oxford to Cottage Grove, Ind., a few miles northwest of College Corner. There it returned to its former C&O route through Richmond to Chicago.
After a two-year campaign by local governments and passenger organizations, Amtrak was granted permission to add a Hamilton stop to its daily two-way service.
The Chicago-bound Cardinal made its first Hamilton stop at 12:50 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3, 1980.
But service was interrupted 14 months later because of Amtrak budget problems and poor ridership on the Cardinal. The train was canceled Oct. 1, 1981.
When it was restored Jan. 8, 1982, it ran only three times a week in each direction instead of daily.
The most recent change was in early 1986 when Amtrak was forced off the line through Richmond, Muncie, Marion, Peru and Gary in Indiana.
Since 1986, it has followed the former Cincinnati, Hamilton & Indianapolis tracks through Connersville and Rushville into Indianapolis on its way to Chicago.
# # #