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100 Years of Bloomington-Normal Railroad Stations

Bloomington, Illinois has a rich railroad history. For more than a century, Bloomington-Normal factored prominently in the operations of a number of railroads. The Chicago and Alton, Gulf, Mobile & Ohio, and Illinois Central railroads have all had a significant presence in the area.

From the 1850s through the 1960s, massive railroad repair and maintenance shops were located on Bloomington's West Side. In the early 1920s, more than 1800 people were employed in the area just at the Chicago and Alton shops-- nearly 3% of the total population of McLean County. The Illinois Central track bisected the two communities straight down the middle, crossing the Chicago and Alton/GM&O tracks in downtown Normal. The very first Pullman railroad coach was built in the Bloomington shops.

On July 14, 2012, the Town of Normal opened a new Multimodal transportation facility in Normal, Illinois that will combining passenger rail, local bus, charter bus, shuttle, taxi, and intercity bus transportation. Bloomington-Normal is currently the 4th busiest Amtrak station in the Midwest with nearly a quarter of a million passengers served each year.

Postcard of Bloomington, Illinois passenger rail station, circa 1925.  This station served the area from the early 20th Century through 1991.  Many other photos of the building are available at RailPictures.net

Postcard of Bloomington, Illinois passenger rail station, circa 1925. This station served the area from the early 20th Century through 1991. Many other photos of the building are available at RailPictures.net

The Bloomington Station on a snowy day in February, 1987.

The Bloomington Station on a snowy day in February, 1987.

The Normal, Illinois station at the crossing of the Illinois Central and Gulf, Moble & Ohio lines, as pictured on September 15, 1963.  This station was demolished in the 1970s.

The Normal, Illinois station at the crossing of the Illinois Central and Gulf, Moble & Ohio lines, as pictured on September 15, 1963. This station was demolished in the 1970s.

The Normal, Illinois Amtrak station that served the area from 1991-2012.

The Normal, Illinois Amtrak station that served the area from 1991-2012.

View of the new Amtrak station still under construction in May 2012.  This photo is taken from almost the identical location as the black and white photo above.

View of the new Amtrak station still under construction in May 2012. This photo is taken from almost the identical location as the black and white photo above.

Hundreds turn out for the grand opening of the new Uptown Station in Normal, Illinois on July 14, 2012.

Hundreds turn out for the grand opening of the new Uptown Station in Normal, Illinois on July 14, 2012.

Aerial view of new Multimodal facility with parking garage on July 30, 2012.

Aerial view of new Multimodal facility with parking garage on July 30, 2012.

Time Lapse Construction Video

For more information on Bloomington-Normal's railroad history, visit the McLean Country Museum of History photographic archives.

Comments

Clayton Hartford from Alger WA on July 30, 2012:

Very interesting hub, great writing.