Why did medium size cities have multiple stations?

3 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    June, 2011
  • 694 posts
Why did medium size cities have multiple stations?
Posted by NP Eddie on Thursday, October 12, 2017 4:57 PM


My answer to the DWP post about Duluth offers another topic!

Why would Duluth need three (3) passenger stations. One for the NP, GN, and at one time the DMIR, another for the SOO, and still a third for the DWP and Omaha (CNW)? Once the SOO's, DWP, and  Omaha's trains were gone those stations were not needed. It would seem that, many years ago, the powers to be would have used one station, the Duluth Union Depot? I would assume that the SOO and DWP/CNW depots are long gone, what with I35.

Minneapolis is another example. The MILW was very nationalistic and felt that they needed their own station (shared with RI and SOO).

Some times one railroad would come in on one side of town and the other on the opposite side. Maybe there was an interchange track.

Oakes, ND was an example of cooperation between the NP and CNW. The agent at Oakes rotated between the NP and CNW.

Lots of history in the above and I am awaiting future posts.

Ed Burns

  • Member since
    August, 2008
  • From: Calgary AB. Canada
  • 2,221 posts
Posted by AgentKid on Thursday, October 12, 2017 5:24 PM

In Canada we used to have a saying; the goverment runs one railway(CNR), and one railway runs the goverment(CPR).

In Calgary, the CPR put it to the test. They were able to convice local landowners and local goverment officials to not let Canadian Northern (CN predecessor) build up to the CPR mailine and facilitate a Union Station. CNor eventually bought, and coverted a Church Hall into a station, which went on to become the CN Station right up to the end of passenger service into Calgary on CN.

I suspect that was actually fairly normal for the late 19th and early 20th Century's



So shovel the coal, let this rattler roll.

"A Train is a Place Going Somewhere"  CP Rail Public Timetable

"O. S. Irricana"

. . . __ . ______

  • Member since
    March, 2013
  • 711 posts
Posted by SD70M-2Dude on Thursday, October 12, 2017 10:08 PM

A union station in Calgary could also have been achieved by connecting the end of CN's ex-Grand Trunk Pacific line (station & yard located at the present day site of Fort Calgary) with the CP main across the street. 

Farther north, Edmonton also ended up with separate CN and CP stations, with a bit more complicated history.  Today the city is split roughly down the middle by the North Saskatchewan River, but back then the small town of Edmonton was located only on the north bank.  The first railway to arrive in the area (1891) was the CP-operated Calgary & Edmonton, which decided crossing the deep valley was not worth it and instead started their own separate town, Strathcona, on the south side of the valley.  The plan was that Edmonton would die off without a railway and its people would migrate across the river to the new town.  For a variety of reasons (Edmonton arranged funding for a bridge and built their own shortline across it) this did not happen, and it was still thriving when the Canadian Northern arrived in 1905.  When the GTP arrived shortly after they negotiated use of the CNoR station (called "Union Station" until the CN merger).  CP now finally realized they needed to get across the river, and built their own bridge and station, completed in 1913.  Strathcona became part of Edmonton, the CP station there was renamed "South Edmonton" and it continued to see passenger service until VIA terminated the Calgary Dayliner in the 1980s. 

I suspect similar scenarios played out across Canada with the intense competition between CP and CN systems.  Vancouver, Kamloops, Calgary, Edmonton, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, London, Montreal and Quebec all had separate stations, often within blocks of each other.  In later years they ended up cooperating more, but when the lines were first built the competitive atmosphere prevented many union stations.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

  • Member since
    September, 2013
  • 2,702 posts
Posted by Miningman on Thursday, October 12, 2017 10:22 PM

If a railroad only had trackage rights on another railroads track then they almost always shared and used their stations, although there were, as alaways, exceptions eg. In Tillsonburg, Ont. the Wabash had their own station even though on CNR rails. Cute little thing. 

The Rail Barons back in the early days were playing a very competitive "game". They demanded and insisted on their own stations, staked their territories and markets with great vigor. The railroads in North America were built under free market and highly competing positions and conditions.

Even with a huge Union Station in Toronto, tenants CPR, CNR, TH&B and NYC, the CPR still maintained and used their own beautiful huge station a bit up on Yonge St. for some of their trains. 

There was no way in heck the CPR/TH&B/NYC gorgeous art deco station in downtown Hamilton would ever consider moving into the CNR's self proclaimed Union Station in Hamilton, although it too was outstanding.

The CPR/TH&B/NYC station is still used by GO commuter trains, the CNR station is preserved but serves no trains. 


Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!


Get the Classic Trains twice-monthly newsletter