Improvements at an Amtrak Station Near You
Whether you’re taking a weekend getaway or a cross country journey, your Amtrak adventure starts at one of our more than 500 stations. Most people don’t know that the majority of stations we serve are actually owned by transit agencies, freight railroads, cities and even individuals. Amtrak works closely with all of these stakeholders to make needed improvements that enhance your travel experience. Check out a few of the station projects completed this summer:
Needles, Calif.: Taking its name from jagged mountain peaks that have long guided travelers, Needles is a gateway to southern California. A new Amtrak waiting room opened inside the historic El Garces Intermodal Transportation Facility in May. The space is open for the early morning arrivals of the east- and westbound Southwest Chief, which offers amazing views of the New Mexico and Arizona deserts.
The El Garces opened in 1908 and operated as a hotel and restaurant within the famed Fred Harvey chain until 1949. In 1993 a “Friends” group petitioned the city to purchase and renovate the building. Needles bought it six years later, created a development plan and raised funds for rehab. There is also a community room, and the city hopes to attract additional tenants.
Milwaukee: A crowd gathered at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station in June to dedicate the passenger concourse, which underwent a $22 million, 18 month reconstruction project to ensure easy access for all passengers. Natural light pours through skylights in a custom fabricated 3-D tubular truss roof, and a new mezzanine spans five tracks and three boarding platforms.
Between the seven roundtrip Hiawatha Service trains to Chicago and the Empire Builder, Amtrak serves Milwaukee 16 times a day. Both Marquette University and the Harley-Davidson Museum are close to the station, or you can head to the Public Market for a great meal.
Waterloo, Ind.: Back in March, a crew picked up the city’s historic 1883 depot and moved it about 700 feet to its new home; following a rehab, it now includes a waiting room for Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited customers and a community space. A volunteer “Friends of the Depot” group coordinated the furnishings and created history displays. The depot project has been endorsed as a “Legacy Project” of the Indiana Bicentennial Celebration.
Osceola, Iowa: Residents gathered on Aug. 1 to cut the ribbon on their refurbished Prairie style depot, which opened in 1907 and serves California Zephyr customers. After agreeing to construct new offices for BNSF Railway, which then occupied most of the depot, the city gained ownership of the building in 2007. It soon laid out a vision for a multi-phase renovation that included re-pointing brickwork and installing a new roof. An adjacent garden has been named for Fred and Ann Diehl, who were instrumental in moving the project forward.
If you stop in Osceola, make sure to peek inside the old post office on Fillmore St. A New Deal era mural depicts the excitement surrounding the arrival of the first locomotive in town; thick black smoke erupts from the smokestack while people cheer and look on in amazement—a new age had arrived.