A tipster wrote in a few weeks ago to report that the historic train station at the elevated tracks over Baxter Avenue has been demolished. There had been rumors floating around for years that CSX had planned to tear down the brick and stucco structure that had become a popular destination for photographers, the homeless, and graffiti artists, but long-time rumors tend to be forgotten. That is until Louisville’s last urban commuter rail station (that I know of anyway) disappears into the history books.
All is not lost, however, as the metal platform canopy still stands, but it is truly a shame to lose the brick structure dating to 1938. At that time, the L&N operated station, the platform, and over a mile of elevated tracks crossing five streets were built for $1.5 million.
What makes this stretch of railroad even more interesting is the route it takes through the city. These tracks are a spur off of a larger set of tracks near Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium running north through the U of L Student Activities Center skirting Old Louisville and running east along the borders of Shelby Park, Germantown, and Smoketown (among others).
The tracks continue over top of Broadway and Baxter Avenue through Phoenix Hill then curve around east through Irish Hill, briefly touching Butchertown (where a spur runs off towards River Road). These are the same tracks that parallel Frankfort Avenue through Clifton and Crescent Hill and then run through St. Matthews, Lyndon, and Anchorage. They also hit LaGrange before they continue into the countryside.
I would say that’s extremely well connected for an urban rail line. Could you imagine if light rail or commuter rail were one day reinstated on these tracks? Imagine how many places would immediately be accessible around the eastern half of urban Louisville. But that future is, as always, far off and appears hazier after the old Baxter Avenue Station has been condemned to the scrap heap.