Union Stations

Union stations (or depots) were facilities served or owned by more than one railroad at a particular location or city.  Some of the most magnificent included Chicago Union Station, Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, Denver Union Station, Cincinnati Union Terminal, and Kansas City Union Station.  However, numerous small towns were also served by quaint union depots where two railroads met.  Today, both large and small, many of these buildings have sadly been razed although some still remain while others have been restored.  Featured here are a handful of some of the largest (some even still function as they were originally designed, to ferry passengers to and from their trains), included those already mentioned above.  For more reading about various union stations and classic railroad terminals please click here.

Chicago Union Station

Cincinnati Union Terminal

Denver Union Station

Kansas City Union Station

Seattle Union Station

St. Louis Union Station

St. Paul Union Depot

Cincinnati Union Terminal

Cincinnati Union Terminal (CUT) was one of the last great railroad stations built in this country. Prior to the terminal's construction Cincinnati was home to several different railroad stations used by the many different Class I systems that passed through or terminated at the city. To better streamline operations and serve passengers, in the 1920s discussions began about building a centralized terminal that would be served by all of the Class I railroads that reached Cincinnati. Today, CUT has been beautifully restored and is still served by Amtrak's tri-weekly Cardinal but functions in many more ways than just a train station as you can shop, watch movies, and even learn about the city's past in the building.

The city of Cincinnati, Ohio situated along the Ohio River is uniquely located, in terms of our nation's railroad grid, to be the terminus or major artery of several Northeastern, Southeastern, and Midwestern railroads. These railroads included the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, Louisville & Nashville Railroad, Pennsylvania Railroad, New York Central System, Southern Railway, and Norfolk & Western. For years these railroads used five different stations to serve their passenger trains. However, in the early 20th century local businessman George Dent Crabbs convinced the seven to jointly build a centralized union terminal to serve not only passenger operations but also freight.

His efforts paid off and in 1927 the Cincinnati Union Terminal Company was born to oversee construction of the new building. Architects Fellheimer and Wagner of New York City built the station and as was common in those days CUT was constructed in the Art Deco style featuring a beautiful arched facade with a large centered clock and fountain to greet visitors as they pulled up to the building. To properly adorn the interior German artist Winold Reiss was commissioned to design several mosaic murals portraying the history of Cincinnati. To the say the least it was a breathtaking station once completed and officially opened to the public on March 31, 1933.  Unfortunately, while this building was stunning in appearance it was built far too late to ever see its full potential realized. By the time Cincinnati Union Terminal opened, the United States was in the midst of the worst depression of its history. Additionally, in general rail travel was waning as airplanes (later jet liners) and automobiles were increasing in popularity and reliability. A brief upturn in traffic during World War II was of little solace as by war's end traffic began the long decline, which would not recover.

Despite the fact that the terminal was constructed in the wrong era, it still witnessed numerous famous passenger trains and streamliners calling there. These included names like the B&O's National Limited, PRR's Spirit of St. Louis (one of just several of the railroad's named trains to stop there), NYC's Cincinnati Mercury, C&O's George Washington, Southern's Florida Sunbeam, and the N&W's Powhatan Arrow. During the terminal's heyday, essentially first decade of service, it witnessed 216 trains every 24 hours passing through (108 departing and 108 arriving). While the building's construction meant that passengers had to pass through the concourse and walk down to track level to board their trains (a number of large terminals enabled passengers to walk directly to their trains, unless they were located underground like at Penn Station) it was designed to efficiently move cars with a wide, semi-circle drive located at the front entrance.

By the 1960s railroads were looking for a way out of the passenger market and in 1971 the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (or Amtrak) was signed into law by President Richard Nixon, which began operations on May 1st of that year. Soon afterward the new passenger carrier reduced service to just two trains a day and by the fall of 1972 abandoned the terminal all together. Not long after the building's use as a train station was discontinued it was in danger of being destroyed all together as the Southern Railway made plans to use the grounds for expanded yard service. However, in the spring of 1973 the forward thinking of the Cincinnati City Council saved the building and designated it an historic city landmark.  While the station's concourse was destroyed by the Southern the rest of the building was saved and still serves in its original capacity as a station stop for Amtrak's Cardinal. Of course, the present-day look of the station required much work to updated its appearance.

By the 1970s the building was extremely rundown after years of neglect and lack of maintenance. After the city saved from sure demolition, $20 million was spent renovating the building and it reopened to the public (amid much fanfare) on August 4, 1980. Unfortunately, the new shopping mall complex, which housed nearly 60 vendors, fell on hard times after the recession of the early 1980s and the building again lay empty by the mid-1980s.  However, a passed levy in the local Hamilton County area allowed for a second renovation and the terminal reopened again in 1990. Today, Cincinnati Union Terminal is a major tourist attraction to the city thanks to the six organization located there; Cincinnati History Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science, Robert D. Lindner Family Omnimax Theater, Cincinnati Historical Society Library, Duke Energy Children's Museum, and the Cincinnati Railroad Club.

Here we see Union Station during its heyday taken on May 16, 1946. To the right is the rival Great Northern/Northern Pacific's King Street Station. Today, the approach tracks and platforms of Union Station have been buried under highrises.

Seattle Union Station

Union Station exemplifies well what once was in years past in terms of intercity passenger trains serving Seattle; while the station survives today it no longer functions in its original capacity (however, that is not to say that passenger rail is dead or dying in the Land of Coffee as it is actually quite the contrary). At one time Seattle was served by two large stations; Union Station owned by the Union Pacific (and later shared by the Milwaukee Road) and King Street Station, the property of the Great Northern and Northern Pacific. Today, only King Street Station still serves in its original capacity, as a functioning railroad station and is happily undergoing a multi-million dollar restoration that will see it returned to its original splendor. After Union Pacific abandoned Union Station in 1971 (the Milwaukee Road had given up on passenger service to the Puget Sound some 10 years earlier) the building's staging tracks and platforms were torn up and today the property houses skyscrapers.

Union Station (originally known as the Oregon & Washington Station for the company which built it, the Oregon-Washington Railroad Company), opened on May 20, 1911, was initially Union Pacific's answer to the Great Northern's and Northern Pacific's King Street Station, which opened five years earlier in 1906. The two stations sat literally right across the street from one another with Union Station located at the corner of South Jackson Street and 4th Avenue while King Street was located just across 4th Avenue to the west. Soon after UP acquired ownership of the new terminal it was joined by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific (the Milwaukee Road). In July of 1927 the Milwaukee completed its electrified lines into Union Station, instantly gaining appeal for the cleanliness such operations provided (remember that this was during the era of belching steam locomotives).

It is argued that Union Station was the more grand of the two terminals; built in the Beaux Arts style the station featured a magnificent vaulted ceiling that rose 55 feet, arched concourse that provided vast amounts of interior open space, large oak benches, and beautifully tiled flooring (not to mention plenty of office space). Of course, from an exterior standpoint the terminal did not quite compare to King Street. With a rather simple exterior design (three floors in total) and no large clock tower it simply did not carry the same eye-catching "awe" as its next-door neighbor.

While Union Station's interior may have been more aesthetically pleasing than King Street it also lacked, from an operational standpoint, the functionality of the latter with a stub-ended rather than a through design (meaning that rail service ended at the station and did not continue on as at King Street Station where the main line passed right beside the building). In another words, this required trains of UP and Milwaukee to back into and out of the terminal.  Once the Milwaukee Road joined Union Pacific from a railfan's perspective, the most interesting operations at the station began. With its electrified service to the terminal and serving different markets than Union Pacific, as well as directly competing with the Northern Pacific and Great Northern, the two railroads teamed up to provide increased service to different cities.

For instance, Milwaukee Road passengers could travel through service aboard the Union Pacific to cities such as Portland while UP travelers reaching Seattle could take the Milwaukee back east all of the way to Chicago if they so desired. During Union Station's heyday one could watch Milwaukee Road EP-1 "Boxcabs" and EP-2 "Bi-Polars" arriving and leaving with the railroad's plush passenger train, the Olympian Hiawatha (and before that, the Olympian) as well as catch Union Pacific's beautifully streamlined City of Portland. However, these unique operations were to be short lived. After only 50 years of service the Milwaukee Road pulled out of the passenger market to the Pacific Northwest in 1961, throwing in the towel to NP and GN, both of whom were just too well established by the time the Milwaukee had launched its flagship train in the late 1940s. Union Pacific would carry on operations for another ten years at Union Station until it too stopped calling there in 1971.

After UP left so too did any chance of seeing passenger trains ever again at the terminal. The approaches and staging tracks at the building were soon demolished to make way for the ever-growing development of downtown Seattle and large skyscrapers now stand where these tracks once were. Amazingly, while the building was left for dead, it somehow survived and was beautifully restored in the 1990s, reopening to the public in 1999. Today, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and houses offices of such entities as Sound Transit, the commuter rail agency that serves the Puget Sound region. You can also using the terminal's stunning "Great Hall" to host large events, such as business parties and weddings.

This incredible scene was captured on November 11, 1926, dedicating the completion of the Liberty Memorial site, which honors those who died in World War I.

Kansas City Union Station

Kansas City Union Station today is the pride of the city. During the heyday of passenger rail travel in this country the terminal was used by several classic railroads, many of whose most important streamliners called at the building. However, from the 1970s through the mid-1990s this was not the case as the station, once the second largest in the country, was a mere eyesore on the city. After 1996 restorations have brought the grand building back to its former glory and today you cannot only still catch three different Amtrak trains at Union Station (the Ann Rutledge, Kansas City/St. Louis Mule, and Southwest Chief) but also shop, dine, and even watch movies! The terminal is one of the Midwest's most notable stations, particularly among those still standing (Chicago Union Station and St. Louis Union Station are two others which come to mind).

Kansas City Union Station has its beginnings dating back as early as 1901 when the Kansas City Terminal Railway (owned by the twelve major railroads which served the city) determined that an updated, larger station was needed. The railroads that served Kansas City agreed that an updated building was the best course of action and being that they all owned the terminal railroad ultimately chipped in to fund construction of the station. These railroads included the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco), Santa Fe, the Burlington Route, Milwaukee Road, Rock Island, Union Pacific, Chicago Great Western, Gulf, Mobile & Ohio, Kansas City Southern, Missouri Pacific, and the Wabash Railroad.  The building itself was constructed by architect Jarvis Hunt in the Beaux-Arts style employing wide open spaces and ornate decorations on the walls and ceilings, including a magnificent clock in the Grand Hall and three huge chandeliers. It took several years to complete the building but it finally opened in October of 1914 after eight years of construction.

The station was impressive to say the least with marble and terra cotta used throughout its construction, three different sub-levels, restaurants, barbershops, offices for the owning railroads, a jail, and the building was even powered by its power plant! It was so large at the time, with its massive center concourse that only the recently opened Pennsylvania Station in New York City was larger. For instance, the Grand Hall topped out at 95 feet and the overall building fielded floorspace of some 850,000 square feet.  Naturally, some of the most well remembered passenger trains called to the station, as well lesser known regional runs including the Super Chief (Santa Fe), the Rocket (Rock Island), Southern Belle (KCS), Colorado Eagle (MoPac), City of St. Louis (Union Pacific), Southwest Limited (Milwaukee Road0, Oklahoman (Frisco), Night Hawk (GM&O), Mills Cities Limited (Chicago Great Western), City of Kansas City (Wabash), and the Kanas City Zephyr (Burlington) just to name a few (many of these railroads had several named trains that served the terminal).

Despite being opened during the heyday of the railroad industry of the early 20th century through the 1920s, the terminal's peak passenger traffic did not occur until 1945 at nearly 680,000 travelers! This, of course, can be explained by the fact that it was during World War II when railroads were moving incredible numbers of people and freight. However, the terminal still saw very high passenger numbers throughout much of those early years, save for much of the 1930s when the nation was gripped in the Great Depression.  As has happened to almost all stations and depots across the country starting in the 1950s, Kansas City Union Station began to lose its luster as rail travel was displaced by the automobile and airplane.  By the 1970s the building was beginning to show serious neglect even though it had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

In 1973 passenger rail travel was becoming so poor that barely 30,000 folks passed through the terminals doors that year. Things got so bad that by 1985 Amtrak, operator of intercity passenger rail services since 1971, decided to move out into a smaller building (this was due, mostly, to the building's deteriorating condition).  While the building sat all but empty over the next decade it was saved by the people of Kansas City when they approved a 1/8-cent sales tax that helped to partially fund the station's restoration, which began in 1997 and was completed by 1999. Today, Kansas City Union Station has been completely restored to its 1914 opening appearance, right down to the authentic light fixtures! Once again the pride of the city the station is well worth the visit if you are in town.

St. Paul Union Depot

The Saint Paul Union Depot may look unimpressive from the outside but its interior is nothing short of breathtaking. Its concourse features stunning stained glass artwork in an arched roof design. The history of the depot dates back to around the time of World War I and replaced a former building that was just as impressive, visually, as its later counterpart. Because the station was the primary terminal serving St. Paul several railroads chipped in on its construction. Since the late 1970s the depot stopped serving as a functioning facility when Amtrak moved all of its operations serving the Twin Cities to the Great Northern's former station in Minneapolis. However, with millions in funding secured and after years of renovations the facility reopened in late 2012 hosting both commuter and intercity trains.

The current St. Paul Union Depot (in the streamliner era it was often known by its initials, SPUD) is actually the "third" terminal to be located on the site. The original was opened in 1881 and was a three-story, mostly-brick structure. It was a massive complex that witnessed millions of travelers passing through its doors and was significantly updated around 1890 to include more space. Additionally, a centered but low-profile clock tower was added to the building to give it a more lavish exterior appearance. This certainly worked and significantly added to the station's elegance although a fire in 1915 mostly destroyed the terminal. As such, it resulted in the present-day station's construction two years later in 1917.

Saint Paul Union Depot was constructed by architect Charles Frost for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (The Milwaukee Road) and opened in 1923 (due to World War I ongoing the station's completion was delayed for years). The terminal, built in the Classical Revival style, replaced two former buildings on the site and by the time it was built the “Golden Age” of passenger rail travel in this country would soon be ending. However, the station still served millions of passengers each year through WWII and played host to the Milwaukee Road’s most famous passenger trains, the Hiawathas.  Despite being operated by the Milwaukee Road the station was also served by nine different railroads whose regional and long distance trains all called to the terminal. For instance, classic Midwestern railroads like the Chicago & North Western, Burlington Route, Great Northern, Rock Island, Chicago Great Western, and others all used the station with names like Empire Builder, Twin Cities 400, Twin Cities Hiawatha, Zephyr Rocket, Blue Bird, and others boarding there.

While the station was primarily a stub-ended design featuring 18 tracks and 9 platforms (meaning trains had to back into and pull out of the staging the tracks to return to the main line), the through main line also passed right next to the building where additional boarding was available. While the Saint Paul Union Depot saw traffic dry up a few years after it opened due to the Great Depression during its peak years more than 280 trains arrived and departed from its tracks on a daily basis. As rail traffic declined through the 1950s trains began to stop calling to the terminal with the first being the C&NW's Twin Cities 400 in late July, 1963. By April 30, 1971, the last day prior to Amtrak, then-Burlington Northern's Afternoon Zephyr was the final privately owned passenger train to depart the station.

When Amtrak took over intercity passenger rail operations in 1971 it opted not to use Saint Paul Union Depot, instead decided on nearby Midway Station for its services to the Twin Cities. Thankfully, Saint Paul Union Depot has been preserved; in 1974 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and today serves as an office building although future plans for it are much grander. With millions in funds secured the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative oversaw the Twin Cities region provided with high-speed commuter rail and light rail service.  The Saint Paul Union Depot became the centerpiece of that plan and after many years of renovations (inside and out) it reopened to the public during a grand ceremony on December 8, 2012.  Actual intercity rail and commuter services began using the terminal in early 2013.

Chicago Union Station

Chicago Union Station today stands as the last reminder of the city’s once dominance in the passenger rail market being home to numerous impressive stations and the flagship trains which called to them. While the station’s passenger concourse was torn down in the late 1960s the main waiting room and the rest of the building continues to be used in its original capacity by Amtrak passengers, and local Metra commuters. The station’s future also looks to be very interesting. While there are many who worry about the Chicago Union Station’s beautiful exterior being tarnished, plans are in place to build an 18-story tower and glass enclosed atrium over the main building which will be used for commercial, residential, and hotel space (some additional 800,000 square feet).

Today’s Union Station is actually a replacement for two previous stations, which either burned or could no longer handle the traffic. Because of this, the three railroads who were regularly using the station; the Pennsylvania Railroad, Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, Chicago and Alton Railroad (later the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio), and Milwaukee Road jointly created the Chicago Union Station Company to oversee and construct a new station in 1913. Initially, the new terminal was meant to include the Michigan Central Railroad, and the Chicago & North Western Railway also contemplated joining. However, in the end these two railroads decided against using the new station. While plans called for the new terminal to be constructed in 1914 it was not completed for eleven more years, until 1925, because of World War I.

While Chicago Union Station would become the city's largest and most prominent such terminal it was certainly not the only one. Chicago, of course, was the place to be in the 1970s and earlier when dozens of well known railroad companies reached the city. If you enjoyed railfanning and watching trains a trip to the city was a must. Additionally, Chicago also provided the largest concentration of railroad terminals anywhere in the country. Along with the Chicago Union Station there was Dearborn Station (also known as Polk Street Station), the B&O's Grand Central Station, Illinois Central's Central Station, and the Chicago & North Western Terminal among others. Some of these massive, and architecturally impressive, buildings still survive while others have been razed.

Chicago Union Station’s original layout was roughly in a “back-to-back” setup with the Milwaukee Road and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy using the north end served by ten tracks along with the Pennsylvania and Gulf, Mobile & Ohio using the south end which featured fourteen tracks (there was also two tracks which ran through the entire station to connect both sections). The building itself was built with Indiana limestone and features Tuscan columns, similar to that of the late Pennsylvania Station in New York City.  The station was designed as two distinct sections, the main waiting room and passenger concourse working as one with the two connected via an underground passageway.The concourse was the section destroyed in the late 1960s but the main waiting room continues to stand.

Known as The Great Hall, the room measures over 34 meters in height to a magnificent vaulted skylight and the wooden benches in the room are arranged for visitors to easily wait for their connections. The hall was the building's hallmark feature and is where the famous photo to the right was taken.  The new terminal was not the first to be located on the current grounds as an earlier Union Station, dating to 1881 was previously located there. As traffic, demand, and trains increased the railroads realized that a much larger facility was needed to accommodate the public's needs. Chicago Union Station was designed by the architect firm Anderson, Probst & White who had done work on a number of other railroad stations and like many large terminals of the period it was built in the Beaux Arts style, one of the very last to receive such architecture.

Despite the fact that Chicago Union Station was in service only during the very late years of the industry's "Golden Age" of rail travel it was in use during the hectic days of World War II. At the time, the station played host to more than 300 trains and 100,000 passengers every day. Aside from the splendor of the The Great Hall, Chicago Union Station also has Tennessee marble and terracotta walls incorporated into it. Today, along with continuing to serve over 50,000 daily commuter and intercity passengers (both Amtrak and Metra serve the terminal), the station is also used for several large gatherings and special events.  While the station itself may soon change, for perhaps better or worse depending on one’s perspective of the 18-story addition in the works, it is somewhat fortunate that the building itself remains today when so many others, especially in the Chicago area itself, have fallen to the wrecking-ball over the years.

Denver Union Station

Purely on aesthetics Denver Union Station is one of the most appealing and interesting railroad stations in the country. While part of this is due to the structure's beautiful Beaux-Arts, Neoclassical design the other is the station's impressive and distinctive arched neon-lit sign, Union Station, Travel by Train. During the heyday of rail travel in this country the terminal played host to many of the West's most famous streamliners and witnessed thousands of passengers parading through its halls daily. Thankfully, Denver Union Station has had quite a happy and productive life (unlike some of its other counterparts across the country) and has been in continual use since it opened in 1914. Even more importantly for the structure's future is that the City of Denver has included the station as part of its major commuter rail project throughout the city, so expect the building to remain a centerpiece for years to come.

The station that is so well known today is not actually the original, which was partially destroyed by fire, although interestingly today's building was partially constructed from the rubble of the original. The first terminal to occupy the structure dated back to its opening on June 1, 1881. This was also Denver's first union station as before this time four different smaller buildings were located around the city owned by each of its railroad; the Union Pacific, Colorado Central Railroad (later the Colorado & Southern, which itself became part of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy), Denver & Rio Grande (later the Denver & Rio Grande Western), and the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad (another future subsidiary of the C&S).

It was UP who proposed streamlining their operations within one terminal, which was to be located just south of downtown Denver along 17th and Wynkoop Streets along the eastern bank of the South Platte River. The original union station had cost $525,000 to construct, quite a sum for that time. The first terminal was quite beautiful featuring a central clock tower with two massive wings in each direction stretching nearly a football field in length each. Sadly, this original structure was partially destroyed by fire just 13 years after opening, on March 18, 1894. The cause of the fire was faulty electrical wiring, which was not uncommon in those times.

With the central waiting room area heavily damaged and clock tower destroyed the second reconstructed terminal was designed by Van Brunt & Howe of Kansas City.  The rebuilt terminal opened later that same year in 1894, thanks to the work of architect firm Van Brunt & Howe (also of Kansas City). They gave the new design a much lower profile but kept the same overall dimensions (width, and height of two stories) as the previous, and rebuilt the clock tower, which was a bit taller than the previous. The new terminal was designed in the Romanesque style giving it a look of Medieval Europe and somewhat resembling a classic castle.

In 1912 operations to the terminal changed. With the previous railroads having changed ownership since 1881 the Denver Terminal Railway Company was created be the then owners of the building to oversee day-to-day management and operations of the terminal. These railroads included the Union Pacific; Denver & Rio Grande Western; Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific; Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (the Santa Fe); and the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy/Colorado & Southern. Sadly, the new ownership decided to again change the look of the structure, permanently razing its classic clock tower.  Today's Denver Union Station was designed by local architects Gove & Walsh and was completed in 1914. It was given a Beaux-Arts styling and further lower profile, somewhat resembling the New York Central's Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

One of the building's more interesting distinctive features, at least regarding rail operations, is that it was one of only a few that served both standard and narrow gauge trains as well as interurban (trolley) operations.  During the station's heyday which lasted from the time of its opening in 1914 through roughly 1950 it served some eighty daily passenger trains of the Union Pacific; Denver & Rio Grande Western; Chicago, Burlington & Quincy; Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific; and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (the classic Santa Fe). It was during the 1950s that Denver Union Station's decline (as with almost all other railroad stations nationwide) as a major rail hub took place and by the 1970s few trains still called there including the famous California Zephyr, which by the spring of 1970 had been renamed the Rio Grande Zephyr, operated exclusively by the Denver & Rio Grande Western.

Today, while a few of Denver Union Station's most decorative pieces have been removed including chandeliers, candelabras, and a large welcome-arch it mostly remains intact and just as it appeared following its opening. The station also remains quite active with all floors filled with offices, business, or entertainment venues including the area immediately surrounding the building, which is quite prominent itself. Today, in the 21st century, Denver Union Station is slated by the City of Denver as a major hub for multimodal transportation, including commuter rail which is to be expanded throughout the local area.

St. Louis Union Station

Today's Saint Louis Union Station, once one of the busiest train stations in the world, no longer serves dozens of inbound and outbound passenger trains heading east and west (during the station's heyday you could find premier trains from railroads like the Baltimore & Ohio, Louisville & Nashville, and New York Central calling there). However, the station is one of our country's largest and in terms of beauty and passengers served it competes with the likes of New York City's Grand Central Terminal and Pennsylvania Station. Fortunately, it has been beautifully restored and now serves more for entertainment and shopping with museums (including an operating model railroad), plays, restaurants, and tours available as just a few of things available for you (there is even a hotel now on the grounds).  The station was completed in 1894 and served in its original role until 1978 when the final long-distance passenger train left its magnificent train shed (at one time the station also saw over 100,000 daily passengers pass through its doors).

Unlike many railroad stations and depots it was not long, however, until Saint Louis Union Station found a new life as an entertainment venue when in August 1985 it was completely restored at a staggering cost of over $150 million and today is a National Historic Landmark.  When the Saint Louis Union Station was constructed in the late 19th century it was built and owned by the Missouri Pacific; St. Louis, Iron Mountain, & Southern Railway (a Missouri Pacific subsidiary); Wabash Railroad; Ohio & Mississippi Railroad; Louisville & Nashville Railroad; and Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & Saint Louis Railway (later owned by the New York Central). In 1899, these duties were transferred to the by the Terminal Railroad Association of Saint Louis, owned by these railroads.

Due to the systems owning the TRRA and using the station it saw some of their best trains using its platforms including the B&O's National Limited and Diplomat; the NYC's Knickerbocker and Southwestern Limited; the Missouri Pacific's Missouri River Eagle, Missourian, Ozarker, Southerner, Sunflower, Sunshine Special, and Texan; the L&N's Humming Bird; and about all of the Wabash's named trains like the Bluebird and the Wabash Cannon Ball (there were many more).   Today this railroad is still in operation and owned by BNSF Railway, CSX Transportation, Canadian National Railway, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific to ferry traffic around the St. Louis area. However, at the time the railroad's ownership of the station allowed all of its owners to use the building (which was the purpose) and dozens and dozens of trains called there daily.

The station's architect was Theodore C. Link and the building's exterior was of the French Romanesque style with cut stone and towers featured on the exterior with a grand 280-foot clock tower as the centerpiece. The station's interior featured a 65-foot vaulted ceiling in the Grand Hall and stained-glass windows. The building was split into three main sections; the Headhouse (where the Grand Hall was located featuring mosiacs, gold leaf details and scagliola surfaces); the Midway (which was the main concourse measuring at 610 feet long by 70 feet wide); and finally the Trainshed which featured 32 tracks on nearly 12 acres of ground for the dozens of trains calling there.  Today, Saint Louis Union Station is perhaps in better condition than it ever was under railroad ownership.

The interior's lavish decorations and restored rooms has made the building one of the city's preeminent destinations. You can find more than two dozen places to dine inside as well as numerous shops and specialty stores. In 2011 the station finished a major restoration and upgrade by Marriott Hotel in the building's main terminal, moving several stores to the next door train shed. This has allowed the station to provide even more luxurious accommodations for travelers and visitors.  While it has been discussed recently to remove the four remaining tracks that actually still serve the station, today train service continues to be available via Metro Link. Similarly it would be rather sad to see the station no longer carry any railroad tracks because of the significant and historical relation they carry to the building. In all, it is very heartening to see the station still standing and beautifully restored in its original splendor.

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