Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Akron Terminal Station

The Akron terminal station was constructed by the Northern Ohio Traction & Light Company, which once operated a system of interurban electric railroads in northeastern Ohio, roughly centered upon the city of Akron. When the new terminal building was constructed on the corner of Main Street and West Federal Street in 1918 it was a four story stone and brick building with waiting room, stores, and offices, behind which sat a steel train shed covering eight tracks. Behind the shed were some smaller brick buildings and a substation that fronted upon High Street, the road paralleling Main but a block eastwards.

Akron Interurban Terminal, from the northwest
As the interurban trolley gave way to the bus, buses began to use the station as well, and by 1932 it became station for buses only, while it continued to serve for some time as the headquarters of the power company. In recent years it has been used for county offices. It remains mostly intact (save for tracks), although two additional stories were added to the main building. The surroundings have changed dramatically, however. When built it stood on a corner, but the road to the north was eliminated and a highway constructed just a bit further north. The intersection was realigned and the area to north and to much of west became parking lost.

West facade. 

Interurban cars reached the train shed by way of a track that turned off Main and then ran along the south wall of the building, through where the gate is now. They departed by turning left/west onto West Federal Street and then turning again north or south onto Main. For 14 years, passengers could catch an electric interurban trolley car, or even a multi-car train, to various points in northeastern Ohio. At one time passengers could ride from Akron north to Cleveland, east to Ravenna, west to Wadsworth, and south to Canton, Massillon, Dover, New Philadelphia, and Uhrichsville. Via connections with other electric interurban railroads at Canton, Ravenna, and Cleveland, a rider could reach much of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and parts of Pennsylvania and New York. At Cleveland steam railroads and steam boats offered even more transportation options.

View from the North
While this station is smaller and less impressive than the one that once grace Indianapolis, it does have one amazing attribute that great structure lacked. The station building in Akron is still extant, with train shed, long after the larger structure in Indianapolis was demolished. In fact, which several impressive interurban stations remain here in America, I believe that only the one in Akron retains a train shed, that wonderfully-obvious sign of its railroad past.

Electrical substation on High Street. It converted AC to DC for use by the trolleys.

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