Louisville Art Deco - L&N's Baxter Avenue Elevated Train Station (Baxter Station)
Baxter Station Logo
Louisville Art Deco Menu:


Feature Articles

What is Art Deco?

Louisville's Art Deco Buildings

Other Cities' Art Deco Buildings

Books & Reviews



Site Map

Last Updated:   November 12, 2009     Redesigned page.

Date Constructed:    October 1937
Address:    Intersection of Baxter Ave., E. Liberty St. & Lexington Road
Current Building Name:    L&N's Baxter Avenue Elevated Train Station (commonly referred to as "Baxter Station")
Earlier Building Names:    none
Architect:    Unknown at this time
Builder:    Henry Bickel Company
Current Status:    Demolished July 30, 2009
Designation (if applicable):    None

Baxter Avenue Elevated Train Station (aka Baxter Station)
October, 4 1937 - July 30, 2009

Source: Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company records - University of Louisville Archives & Records Center
Enlarge - original, uncropped version                   Enlarge - cropped version (above)

The Baxter Avenue Elevated Train Station was located along 1.6 miles (8500 feet) of elevated train line which was constructed from April 1936 to October 1937. The station building itself sat on this elevated line about 500 feet east of the Baxter Avenue & East Liberty Street intersection (near Lexington Road). It was demolished on July 30, 2009.


  • This page could not have been possible without the research assistance of Mr. Ron Schooling, a fellow historian and Louisville electric elevated rail fan. Many sincere thanks Ron!
  • Also many thanks to Mr. Robert Dawson for the very informative L&N Employee Magazine pages he discovered and shared with Ron. Superb find Robert!

At one time L&N Railroad tracks physically crossed Baxter Avenue near Beargrass Creek and a small passenger train station platform built in 1910 was located near that intersection. As Louisville continued to grow, traffic congestion greatly increased at the confluence of multiple streets coming and going in many directions: Baxter Avenue, Liberty Street, Walnut Street, Jefferson Street and Lexington Road - plus the added complication of trains regularly crossing the area.

Due to this issue a large project was undertaken to raise the tracks above the road thereby alleviating the congestion. This effort was known as the "Grade Separation Project," and was part of the United Stated Works Program (WPA). Linked below are articles from issues of the L&N Employees Magazine describing the project (two pages from June 1936 & three pages from February 1938).

June 1936 - p.7

June 1936 - p.8

Feb. 1938 - p.4

Feb. 1938 - p.5

Feb. 1938 - p.6

The Grade Separation Project elevated the tracks from about Kentucky Street to a point approximately 900 feet northeast of Baxter Avenue for a total elevated distance of about 8,500 feet (1.6 miles). Two grade crossings were eliminated: at Baxter Avenue and at Broadway. Breckinridge Street changed from passing over the tracks previously to passing under the tracks afterwards. As part of the project, Brent Street was extended to pass beneath the tracks and connect with Broadway (near where Louisville Stoneware is currently located). Interestingly enough, an underpass was also built into the viaduct for the expected future extension of Walnut Street (now Muhammad Ali Blvd), but which was never built [see "Underpass To Nowhere" below]. Along the length of the elevated track, four different ramps branched off the viaduct to the street level to serve local industry.

The construction contractor was Henry Bickel Company of Louisville, KY. The Kentucky State Highway Department had general supervision of the details of the work. Work began on April 27, 1936, and was delayed for a short time by the great flood of 1937. The project's opening was conducted with a minimum of fanfare on October 4, 1937 when the No. 7 passenger train glided over the structure, being the first scheduled train to use the viaduct and station. The estimated total cost for the project was $1.5 million, this expense being borne primarily by the Federal Government, but also by the L&N Railroad and the City of Louisville.

No.7 at the Station - 10/4/1937
(Station's inaugural run)

The new Baxter Station

No. 7 leaving the station - 10/4/1937
(Station's inaugural run)

Station Details:
From the February 1938 issue of the L&N Employee Magazine:

"Another integral part of the track elevation project was the construction of a new passenger station at Baxter Avenue, which replaces the old wooden one at that point, long a familiar landmark to East End residents. The new station is modern in every respect and is of brick, steel and concrete construction, with stucco exterior. The waiting rooms and platforms for the loading and unloading of passengers are on the upper level of the station, level with the tracks, which are, of course, elevated at that point. The ground floor of the station is occupied by a heating plant and the machine room. An elevator has been installed for handling baggage to and from the street level and waiting rooms, and passengers themselves ascend or descend either by means of concrete stairways, or by a ramp, the latter being at the west end of the station only."

"The station proper is 76 feet long and 18 feet wide and its design harmonizes with that of the viaduct in general. Flanking it on either side is a train shed [passenger platform canopy], with a total length of 500 feet and a width of 31 feet. This is of steel, with a concrete roof, covered with composition roofing. The platform is 900 feet long. Ample parking space is available under and alongside the station. The tracks at this location were spread to permit the construction of the station and the sheds, and trains pass on either side of these; northbound trains on the south side and southbound trains on the north side."

"The track level of the station is occupied by the office of the L&N agent at East Louisville, by a negro waiting room, a general waiting room, 25 feet long by 16 feet wide, a baggage room, restrooms for both men and women, and by a ticket office. Comfortable settees help the passengers to pleasantly while away the time. The usual modern conveniences are, of course, not lacking and there are telephone booths, drinking fountains, and other items of comfort and convenience for travelers. The arrival and departure of 14 passenger trains which pass the station daily is announced over a public address system."

Shown here is the interior of the General Waiting Room taken in 1937 just after the station opening, and the same view in July 2009 just prior to total demolition. The birth and death of a station. (Click on the photo for a larger, higher resolution version)

Station Interior - General Waiting Room
Source: Caufield & Shook (1937) - University of Louisville Photographic Archives

[Note: Use of this photo on any web site, commercial or non-profit, requires a use fee paid to the University of Louisville Photographic Archives]

Same view - July 2009 (prior to demolition)
Photo by Jim L. Patterson - copyright 2009

Another station feature was the mail chute which delivered bags of mail plummeting down a secured chute at the far western end of the train platform to waiting U.S Mail trucks parked below at street level. The hatch cover remains today, but the metal chute has been removed and a concrete blockade sits at street level where the mail trucks used to wait.

In the 1940's when streamlined diesel powered trains started making their glorious runs, many famous trains saw their Louisvile debut at this station. Among these were the "Humming Bird," "Pan American" and the "Azalean." The last trains in and out of Baxter Station ran in late 1963 and it officially closed in 1964. Since then the station became a graffiti covered, derelict structure while a steady stream of freight trains passed the station daily.

Demolition began on the lower level of the station in late July 2009, with the final and total demolition of the station proper on July 30, 2009. I would guess that liability concerns drove the decision.

Station Layout:
I was fortunate to have taken physical measurements of the station in March 2009 prior to its demolition. Shown below is a scale drawing of the station layout, as well as a not-to-scale 3-D drawing created with Google Sketchup, then enhanced with additional visuals by Ron Schooling.
(Click on each drawing for a larger, higher resolution image)

Baxter Station Scale Layout - by Jim Patterson

Google SketchUp (not to scale) - by Jim Patterson & Ron Schooling
(Looking at the North Face)

The Station in 2009 (prior to demolition):

Photos by Jim L. Patterson - copyright 2009
Click on the thumbnail photo to view a larger, higher resolution image.

Station Exterior:
The station building was 76 feet long and 18 feet wide, and located above street-level between two sets of tracks. At some point in its history, the art deco elements along the roofline were squared off and the flutes filled in (compare the photos below with the roofline in the vintage photo above).

Looking up from Baxter & E. Liberty

West & North faces

Looking up from E. Liberty St.

East face (into elevator baggage room)

East & North faces

Squared-off roofline (compare to vintage photo)

Original flutes revealed near roofline

South face
Platform & Train Shed:
The station platform stretched from the Baxter Avenue underpass towards the east for a total of 900 feet. The train shed (overhead canopy) was 500 ft. long, leaving 400 ft. of the east end of the platform uncovered (but illuminated with light-posts - now gone). The station building was located off-center of the 500 ft. train shed length - making the west side of the covered platform longer than the east.

West platform

West platform with mail chute

Mail chute

Mail chute from below

Looking beyond the west platform

Looking down the west platform

West staircase and ramp

The east platform (looking west)

East platform

East platform

East staircase

Train shed details
General Waiting Room:
The General Waiting Room was 25 ft. x 16 ft., had a men's and women's restroom, and a ticket-office window. A vintage photo of this room appears earlier on this page.

Ticket window

North door & windows

North door, windows & men's restroom door

South door & windows

South door, windows & women's restroom door

West wall with restroom doors

Men's restroom & window

Terrazzo floor
Ticket Office:
The ticket office was a narrow 8 ft. x 16 ft. room, with ticket windows into both the General Waiting Room and Negro Waiting Room.

Looking into south door & window

Looking into south door

Ticket window into Negro Waiting Room & control panel

Control panel
(Lights? Heat? PA system?)
Negro Waiting Room:
[Note: The term "negro" is not meant as derogatory. It is referenced here as an historical term, used at the time the station was designed and built, and shown as such in the L&N Magazine article of the time. It is an unfortunate reminder of past segregation.]
This room was 11.25 ft. x 16 ft., had a men's and women's restroom, and a ticket-office window.

Ticket window & north door

North door, window & men's restroom door

Men's restroom door

Men's restroom window

Men's restroom

Women's restroom door

Women's restroom window

Terrazzo floor
Baggage Elevator Room:
The baggage elevator room was located on the far east end of the station building. It consisted of the elevator and a staging/holding area. The elevator itself spanned the width of the station. Luggage could be loaded and unloaded from several ways: access doors facing the north and south side of the platform, or into the holding/staging area inside the room then onto the east platform via a roll-up access door facing that direction.

Rool-up access door onto east platform

Access gate into holding area


North access door

South access door

Cable housing & ladder

Ladder to upper cable pulleys

Upper cable pulleys
Lower Level Machine Room:
The lower level portion of the station (located at ground-level) housed the boiler, electrical, and baggage elevator. Arriving passengers could park their car around the concrete piers and drop their luggage off at the baggage elevator. They could go up to the station at track-level by one of three access methods: via the east staircase, west staircase, or west ramp.

Lower Elevator Shaft

Elevator counter-weights

Elevator Motor
Baxter Avenue Underpass:

WPA Plaque

From above

The "Underpass to Nowhere" (Walnut Street Underpass)....

Just to the west of the Baxter Avenue underpass approximately 400 feet, stands the built but unused Walnut Street underpass. This was to be for a future extension of Walnut Street under the track viaduct. This extension was never built, nor the bridge that would have been needed to cross Beargrass creek. You can see the underpass abutments on Google Earth or Wikimapia photos. A series of buildings now sits where the street extension would have run, so the underpass is located behind those structures. Thanks to Ron Schooling for letting me know if its existence!

Plan of East Louisville Grade Separation Project
(L&N Employees Magazine, June 1936)
Shows the Walnut Street extension drawn on the plan.

Plan detail showing the "Proposed Walnut Street Underpass"
(Baxter Station noted with blue rectangle)

Same view - Google Earth

Looking east

Looking east

Looking east

Looking through the underpass across Beargrass Creek towards Eagle Paper

Sidewalk pass-through

WPA Plaque

Sidewalk pass-through

Looking west

Video - Baxter Station from the cab of a train:
The following video is by train engineer Alex O'Nan, and shows his trip along the CSX Shortline from Cincinnati to Louisville. At the 6:44 minute mark, he goes by Baxter Station and you get the engineer's view from the cab. At the 6:54 mark, he travels over the Walnut Street Underpass (the "Underpass to Nowhere", shown above).

The Demolition:
The station was demolished on July 30, 2009. The train shed (overhead canopy) remains in place, but now with a gap where the station building used to exist.

Ryan Armbrust at "Sniper Photo" captured a number of shots during the actual demolition:
Sniper Photography - Baxter Station Demolition

The demolition was also noted on Branden Klayko's "Broken Sidewalk" site:
Broken Sidewalk - Baxter Station Demolition

Home Feature Articles What is Art Deco? Louisville's
Art Deco Buildings
Other Cities'
Art Deco Buildings
Books & Reviews Links Contacts Site Map