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Elevating the tracks PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jack Money   
Thursday, 12 October 2006 10:00
March was a happy time in downtown Oklahoma City in 1932.

Old wooden shacks, called watchmen’s shanties, were being loaded up on rail cars and hauled away (1) while the Santa Fe Railway tested out its new elevated lines between NW 6 and Chickasaw Avenue, south of Reno Avenue.(2)

The lines were raised onto a viaduct of sorts so that automobile traffic flowing east and west across the tracks would no longer have to wait on trains. Instead, they could drive underneath.

Now, make no mistake — getting the work done was no small chore.

Civic leaders started calling for making the change some two decades earlier. (3)

A majority of business owners indicated they would oppose the change at one point about 10 years into the debate. (4)

In 1925, the railroad started the first phase of the project by building a new double-tracked bridge across the Canadian River, elevating it six feet higher than the river’s banks. (5)

City voters were asked to chip in for part of the cost by Oklahoma’s Corporation Commission  —  a request made because of the city’s demands for wide-enough underpasses to allow four lanes of traffic for significant streets.

At last, in 1932, the railroad began using part of the elevated tracks.

 Along the way, the city extracted a promise from the railroad to build a new station — something the railroad nearly decided against doing until the city threatened to withhold its $350,000 share of the $4.5 million track elevation job.(6)

In 1934, though, the new station did open.

It closed in 1979 when rail passenger service ended in Oklahoma City. But eventually, it was bought and remodeled by Jim Brewer, a Bricktown promoter and property owner. Brewer reopened the station in 1999 after it had closed in 1979, and it continues to be used today by Amtrak passengers who ride the Heartland Flyer between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth.

The south end of the station, once a cargo depot, is being remodeled into retail spaces today.

 1. Elevation Marks Passing of Rail Watchmen, The Oklahoman, March 12, 1933.

2. Santa Fe Elevated Tracks Ready Soon, The Oklahoman, Feb. 20, 1933.

3. Railroad Asked to Raise Tracks, The Oklahoman, Dec. 12, 1911.

4. Industries May Fight Rail Plan, The Oklahoman, Nov. 12, 1920.

5. Track Raising Begins in City, The Oklahoman, Dec. 3, 1925.

6. City to Insist on New Depot for Santa Fe, The Oklahoman, March 23, 1933.


Last Updated on Sunday, 10 August 2008 01:19