Train Station a Welcome Sight
The Pennsylvania Railroad ran from Cincinnati to Chicago and the Pennsylvania station in Anderson(Indiana) was on the hill at 9th and Central. Down by the tunnel(underpass) was at least one bar and across the street was what had been good hotels in better days. On weekends when I came home from the Navy, my folks would meet me at the station at 4 or 5 in the morning when I came in on Friday night and take me back to the station on Sunday afternoon to catch the train back to Chicago.
In the early 1960s, I remember catching the 11 p.m. train out of Chicago Union Station. As part of it continued on to Florida after reaching Cincinnati, it was long and I would walk through the steam swirling in the lights of the platform looking for my coach in the hustle and bustle of travelers, porters and Red Caps. Trains were heated with steam from an engine back then. The train carried both sleepers and coaches and when I found my coach, a conductor would check my ticket to be sure that I was where I was supposed to be. Finding a seat, I settled in for the trip.
I always had trouble sleeping until we were moving and leaving Chicago. Other travelers never seemed to have that problem. They could drop off almost immediately, but I liked seeing the city at night as the lights flashed by and as we would pass the grade crossing, homes and factories. As we began to move through the darkness, a conductor would come through and punch our ticket and after a while, dim the lights for those who were sleeping. And then there was the almost gentle rocking of the car on the tracks as we moved through the night. I would occasionally rouse from sleep as we went through one town or another.
When we came nearer to Anderson, the conductor would come through the care announcing the stops. "Elwood, next stop, Elwood." "Frankton, next stop, Frankton." And then I was home pulling past Cross Street and across Broadway and slowing for the passenger station. Through the night, the lights of the PRR station seemed to welcome me as I peered out the window looking for my family. The Anderson sign on the end of the station would come into view and my family was there, looking for me with a big wave and smile as they spotted me through the large glass windows of my coach. A conductor was always at the door helping us to dismount to insure that all of the ladies and gentlemen left the car safely.
As our family greeted each other and headed for the car, there would be a brief flurry of baggage and mail handling. Outgoing baggage and mail had been placed on carts waiting at the proper location to be loaded and unloaded. By the time we drove from the parking lot, the conductor would be calling his "All Aboard." Soon the throb of the diesel motors would increase and the train would pull swiftly out of the station southbound carrying the still sleeping travelers heading for points south and vacations in Florida.
The remaining people on the platform would move away and the station would once again be still. In the dark of night, it was difficult to see the faded condition of the Pennsy station and equipment. Then, all seemed well with the world and the railroads with dawn breaking, as we drove home.
Source: Roger Hensley, President of the Madison County Historical Society
Madison County Historical Society|15 West 11th Street, P. O. Box 696, Anderson, Indiana 46015-0696|(765) 683-0052