Editor’s note: This is the 487th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON — When rail tycoon Collis P. Huntington purchased a mostly vacant stretch of river bottom to be the western terminus of his Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, he ordered the immediate construction of extensive car and locomotive shop facilities, two rows of houses for the railroad’s workers and a three-story passenger station.
The station was completed and ready to greet the first train from Richmond, Virginia, when it arrived in Mr. Huntington’s new town on Jan. 29, 1873.
The C&O’s first Huntington station would continue to welcome passengers for the next 40 years. But by 1913, the old depot was showing its age and so the railroad built a new station of Georgian design, similar to stations it built in some of the other large communities it served. The old station was then demolished.
For decades, the C&O’s passenger trains were part of the daily fabric of life in Huntington. Untold thousands of rail journeys began and ended at the C&O’s vintage 1913 station in Huntington, where its waiting room was always a busy place.
But in the years after World War II, growing competition from the airlines and the nation’s new interstate highways pushed railroad passenger service into a virtual freefall.
In 1971, most U.S. railroads, including the C&O, conveyed their passenger operations to the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, the quasi-governmental operation better known as Amtrak. The last C&O passenger train pulled out of the Huntington station just hours before Amtrak took over.
Today, CSX Transportation, the corporate successor to the old C&O, uses the former station to house various offices.
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