Come to the next informative meeting of the Champaign County Historical Society on Sunday, Aug. 21, at 2 p.m. in your Champaign County Historical Society Museum and learn about the 1926 Big Four Railroad elevation through the city of Urbana, presented by Dr. Ward Lutz, who has, among his many interests, a love of railroads. Mr. Lutz is a native born Champaign Countian and has come back home after many years of living elsewhere. He is very knowledgeable in many subject areas and welcomes any old timers to come join us and add to our story of this past event.
Hadley Baldwin, Chief Engineer for the Big Four (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, & St. Louis) Railroad in his project proposal to the Urbana City Council on March 19, 1925 noted: “It is known that the business of the Big Four from south to the Great Lakes is developing so rapidly that the present one track facilities are inadequate to meet its transportation problems, making necessary a program of double tracking, which will not only increase its efficiency but which will be of much importance to municipalities fortunate enough to be located on the proposed improvements.”
Thus began the ultimate double tracking and elevation of the Big Four Railroad through Urbana in 1926. The project involved 25 miles of track from Tremont City road to Bellefontaine. It resulted in the current landscape of this railroad through Urbana with the tracks elevated above the extension of W. Reynolds into College Way, Miami, Gwynne, Pindar and Light streets, as well above the Pennsylvania & Erie railroad tracks. A number of businesses, and residence were purchased by the Railroad to accommodate this project. The old depot was replaced with new passenger & freight depots. One of the tracks laid in 1926 is still in service to Bellefontaine. The other track right-of-way has been recently repurposed as a bike trail.
Perhaps Lutz will share with the audience the old and the new pictures he has been assembling for the museum, in case you have missed them in the newspaper in the last few months. I am sure he will have some interesting stories to share. Come join us Sunday, Aug. 21, at 2 p.m. in your Champaign County Historical Society and Museum, 809 East Lawn Ave., Urbana.
Submitted by the Champaign County Historical Society.