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  Railroads of Madison County
Karen Dinsmore
Memories of a NYC RR Train Girl

The Depots in my Life
Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis stations


Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis
The first large stations in my life were in Chicago. The La Salle Street Station was the one we most commonly arrived at and departed from but if we went out to Long Lake to see one of my aunts we had to go over to Union Station to catch the Milwaukee and switch from Union Station to the La Salle Street when heading back home. If the Milwaukee was running late there were tense moments as we dashed from depot to depot. I remember also arriving a few times at the Dearborn Station when I was younger so we may have taken the Erie. Dad got one foreign pass a year and would usually use it to go to Chicago and later St. Louis

When the Michigan Division passenger trains were still running we often went to Indianapolis to shop for the day. We also rode the train to Indianapolis to catch a train to St. Louis. The Indianapolis Union Station wasn't as opulent as the stations in Chicago and St. Louis but the huge rest room areas with adjoining areas for relaxing were really great. They had areas with several sofas and easy chairs and even a desk where I did lots of studying during layovers in Indianapolis when going from Muncie to Lafayette. You don't find large quiet resting places like where mom's can breast feed babies, give a baby a bottle, change diapers, or women as a whole can relax, write letters, and do their nails in airports.

When the St. Louis era began we usually spent Easter and Christmas and other school vacations in St. Louis and once grandchildren came it wasn't unusual for mom to say "get your bags packed we're going to St. Louis today". When I was 12 I took the train to St. Louis alone and caught the Kings Highway bus to go out to Barnes Hospital to see my sister who was in nurses training there and then went on to Labadie, Missouri to baby sit my brother's baby for a couple days. I would never have let my own children do that but I had been in Union Station in Indianapolis and Union Station in St. Louis so much I knew what to do.

Union Station in St. Louis was a sight to behold with its tower and gorgeous fountains out front. When you went inside you immediately went down about 25 stairs into a massive waiting area. There were shoeshine stands and newspaper stands with candy and gum but it wasn't a succession of commercial shops like in airports. There was a large board with the arriving trains and departing trains listed. Adjacent to the waiting area was an elegant hotel. It was a busy place as many railroads started from there to go west or ended there from the east. When we took the Wabash Railroad to St. Louis we often used the Del Mar Station as it was close to a sister's house.

Karen

Picture in Order:
LaSalle Street, Chicago Union Station, Indianapolis Union Station, St Louis Union Station and St Louis Caller Board


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