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From: jdent1 AT optonline DOT net
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2006 09:27:56 -0400
Subject: East Alton, IL
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Historic but decrepit train station bites dust

EAST ALTON -- No one seemed to notice or care as a construction crew pounded a historic train station into dust Monday morning.
"It doesnít matter to me," said Karen Rea, who works at Little Four Tavern on Shamrock Street. "I never really paid any attention that they were tearing it down. It has been looking rickety over the years."

The station, on Shamrock across from Olin Community Credit Union, dates back to the early 1900s.

The stationís name changed over the years; it was once known as Alton Junction and Wann Junction, said Roger Werts, code enforcement officer for East Alton, who issued the demolition permits.

The station also saw various owners over the years, including the New York Central Railroad, said Floyd Ralston, former owner of Community Seed and Feed, a business on Shamrock next to the train station.

Ralston watched as the passenger and freight trains stopped coming and the tracks were eventually taken over by weeds.

"There wasnít much coming in," Ralston said. "They just let it go; must have been abandoned as far as I know because nobody wanted it for anything."

Ralston recalls days when freight trains carrying coal made their way on the tracks and the station was bustling with activity. But those days are gone. Ralston said the station has been unoccupied for about 25 years or more.

"Itís been sitting there vacant, just deteriorating," he said.

Those in the area seemed to know little about the station or its owner.

"I donít know whoís got it now," Ralston said. "Everybody that was in business in this corner has passed away."

After citizens complained about the shabby old station, Werts issued a demolition permit for the building to be torn down.

"Weíve gotten complaints of it being an eyesore," he said.

A construction crew started tearing down the rickety station around 7 a.m. They hoped to have the building down in one day, a construction worker said.

Little is known about the neglected train station or its current owner. The Wood River Township Assessorís Office listed Gateway Western Railway Co. as the last owner. Gateway, a Class II railroad, ran through the Chicago and Alton Railroad between Kansas City and St. Louis.

Kansas City Southern Industries Inc. purchased Gateway in 1997. A spokeswoman from Kansas City Southern did not have more recent history on Monday.



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