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  • Clearwater Passenger Station

    By Julian Cavalier - All photographs by the author

    Train #81 "Silver Star" pulling a 5-car passenger train headed by locomotive #636 southbound as it approaches Clearwater Station in Florida. Note the tracks in the center of the street that run several blocks along East Avenue.

    The "Silver Star" eases to the station. This 12:45 p.m. scheduled arrival is a late arrival train as it slows to a stop at 1:20 p.m. due to a delay at its previous stop at Tampa.
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       The Clearwater Passenger Station is located at the southwest corner of East Avenue and Court St. in downtown Clearwater, west central Florida which borders Clearwater Bay that opens to the Gulf of Mexico. According to records of the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad, this station was built in 1914. The original drawings, from which the drawings presented here were made, are of the Tampa and Gulf Coast Railroad Company, dated by the Office of Engineer of Buildings, Norfolk, Virginia, July 5, 1923 with a completed date of February 1924, by the Elliot Building Company ascontractors. It is possible that the 1914 date may refer to an earlier depot on the site, or that the present station was built in 1914 with modifications completed on it in 1924.

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    It's a windy day on April 26, 1980, temperature a warm 84 F as the train has stopped fronting the Seaboard Coastline Station now used by Amtrak.

    The Seaboard Coastline train is about to depart southbound to St. Petersburg as passengers are greeted by friends in front of the station.
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       In comparing the original 1923-24 drawings to the station's present state of existence, it generally looks much the same now as it does in the original drawings, except for certain modifications that were made since 1923-24 period. The original T&GC drawings show the central office area separating two waiting rooms, one on each side of it with a separate wicket for each waiting room. The two sets of entry doors flanking the central bay window office at track side, the opposite at the rear or parking lot side, seem to verify that two separate waiting rooms originally did exist. The original drawings also indicate a brick chimney located between the former two wickets may have once existed although there is no indication whatsoever of this today. Eave gutters apparently once surrounded the perimeter of the roof of the entire station, but today only the full length gutter across the trackside length of roof eave exists with downspouts at the ends.

       The central office area was changed to make it larger by removing the single west wall portion and both angled wicket walls, then adding two slightly angled walls to connect to the main outside wall as shown in the floor plan. The former south waiting room became an office area, but the north waiting room was retained, and a double ticket wicket made to the adjoining central office wall facing the present waiting room. The expansion of the central agent's office allowed for an air conditioner to be installed high on the outer wall with an opening made in the wall especially for it, as seen in the floor plan and parking lots side elevation drawings.

    SCL CLEARWATER PASSENGER STATION
    Drawn by: Julian Cavalier
    Scale: 1/8 = 1'-0"
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    An overall trackside view of Clearwater Station taken January 4, 1980. The station is painted a colorful red, white, and blue. Its weathered roof still shows a reddish color.

    Close-up view of the bay window. The "Clearwater" station name sign has a blue background with white lettering. This side of the station has a rainwater gutter fronting the building, not found on the other side or on the ends.
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       The station building is of wood frame construction with Kellastone Stucco on the main upper exterior walls, and Kellastone smooth cement finish below this around the lower base. The roof and end dormers have the original, but now faded, red composition shingles with peak and angled roof joint trimmings of molded tin.

       One outstanding architectural feature of this station is its rows of matched wood columns standing on brick pedestals around the entire building supporting the wide roof overhang, thus allowing for a complete outside shelter on all sides. Old styled wood benches of different designs are placed around the station on the concrete platform walk against the outside walls on all sides except the south baggage room end.

       The exterior of the building is brightly painted white, blue, and red. The walls and roof overhang are white, window frames, doors, and the wood columns are blue, and columned brick pedestals are painted red. Even the baggage wagon and carts are painted a matching blue. The roof now has a rustic red and grey weathered appearance. The right angled parking lot is paved with granite cut bricks.

       The station is owned by the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad and continues in full active service as an Amtrak passenger station facility. An interesting location feature of this station is that it is served by a single track line that is in the center of a paved street used regularly by daily automobile traffic. The track runs several city blocks through the length of East Avenue in a North-South direction before it runs off at both ends of this short avenue into regular tie supported track. Passenger trains run both North and South bound making four stops daily at Clearwater Station. These trains are the Silver Star and the Silver Meteor, each usually having five to six passenger cars at this point enroute.

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    West parking lot side of the station. Note the steel "H" posts fronting the columns for protection. "They are painted yellow and located only on this side of the station. Also note that there are no rainwater gutters on this side of the station.
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    Various styles of outside wood benches are placed around the station painted a matching blue used on the station windows, doors, and round column portions. Note the roof overhang ceiling lights which are placed at intervals around the entire station.

    Trackside view taken February 17, 1980 showing the row of columns that continue around the entire station. Note the low-style baggage carts.

    Looking south along the open platform on the station's west side showing ceiling lighting. The parking lot is at the right.
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       Passenger stations served by tracks in actively used city streets are less common today than they once were. The Clearwater Station exists today in good condition, and for its size is busy with passenger activity especially around train time. Seeing the train approaching the station along a city street is a rewarding experience. The diesel locomotive is like a giant blasting its horn as it approaches each street intersection crossing the tracks with a few automobilies scattering to get out of its way while others stop dead at the cross street giving way to the train. At the Court Street intersection signal bells ring out as crossing gates drop to halt traffic just before the train approaches the station reducing its speed slower as it eases to a stop. The departing and boarding of passengers and baggage lasts only a few minutes this time and soon the locomotive blasts its departure easing slowly away. The crossing gates rise, the backed up auto traffic quickly passes, and the station is quiet once again until next time.

       From time to time between passenger train runs, through freight trains pass the station and once again dominate the short length of East Avenue. The old time flavor of Clearwater Station still remains for anyone who may wish to visit it, especially at train time for that added opportunity of seeing trains rolling along through the street.

    South baggage room end shows the sliding door. The two upper windows are from the south toilet rooms. The baggage room is small but adequate for this station.

    North end windows are all from the toilet rooms. The lower glass is 'frosted", upper panes are clear. Two styles of wood benches front the walls.

    The west, parking lot, side of the station showing at upper right, the upper wall opening with air conditioner through it servicing the central office. The door leads to the waiting room.

    A south-east station elevation shows that the dormer window glass is diamond shaped. The station name signs, one on each dormer, have white backgrounds with black lettering. These are believed to be the original signs.
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    Article Details

    • Original Author Julian Javier
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date February 1981

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  • David Lotz
    David Lotz Our featured article today provides photos and scale drawings of the Clearwater Passenger Station, that was located on the southwest corner of East Avenue and Court Street in downtown Clearwater, west central Florida. At the time the article was written, ...  more
    July 6, 2012