1968: The End of the Line for Passenger Train Service at the Huntsville Depot

March 30, 1968

The last regularly scheduled passenger train service at a railroad station in northern Alabama’s city of Huntsville took place at a time in which that longtime facility was marked for permanent closure. The train making this final run at the Huntsville Depot was the Tennessean, which had been operated by Southern Railway since 1941.

The Huntsville Depot was opened in 1860. The civil engineer overseeing the construction of this station was Gabriel Jordan, Jr. Jordan, who hailed from Virginia, ultimately made a name for himself when it came to railroad operations and infrastructure in the Huntsville region. The Huntsville Independent noted in an 1877 article, “Mr. Jordan is well known all through North Alabama and has a most enviable reputation as an active and efficient railroad man.”

Along with serving as a stop for train passengers, the Huntsville Depot was the eastern division headquarters for the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. (This railroad, which existed between 1857 and 1894, was the first one in the United States to provide a link between the Atlantic Ocean and Mississippi River.) A more enduring claim to fame for the Huntsville Depot, however, resulted from the American Civil War. After the Union Army seized control of Huntsville in 1862, the depot was temporarily used as both a prison and hospital for captured Confederate soldiers.

Following the shutdown of the Huntsville Depot as an active passenger train station in 1968, this building was converted into a museum focusing on the area’s railroad legacy. The Huntsville Depot — the oldest surviving structure in Alabama to have served as a railroad station — was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

Photo Credit: Chris Pruitt (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license at https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/72/Huntsville_Depot_July_2010_03.jpg)

For more information on the Huntsville Depot, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huntsville_Depot

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