Thursday, July 5, 2012

Railroad Depots (#2) Arkansas

As we rolled on west along US 70, running parallel to I-40 in order to avoid construction and delays, we came to the town of Carlisle Arkansas. 

This is the former Rock Island Railroad Depot in Carlisle.  It was acquired by Union Pacific when that railroad bought out the Rock Island.  It’s now been repurposed as the offices for a local insurance company. 

The first railroad, the Memphis and Little Rock, came to town in 1858.  This depot was built much later, ca. 1920, in the Tudor Revival Style.  The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Back on May 5, 2008, the depot was damaged by an F1 Tornado that blew through town.  Fortunately, the damage was repaired and this end of the building was rebuilt. 

Carlisle was founded on 8/1/1872 by Samuel McCormick.  The story is that he either named the town after Carlisle PA or one of his friends whose last name was Carlisle.  This town and the surrounding area is the birthplace of rice growing on the Grand Prairie…and rice, along with cotton and soybeans are the key crops in this agricultural community of about 2,200 people.  The Trail of Tears…the route of the forced march of eastern Indian tribes to Oklahoma…passes just north of the town.

This is another view of the Carlisle railroad depot…looking at the outdoor waiting area.  Of course, the tracks are long gone… This depot had separate waiting rooms for black and white passengers and one train buff who gained access to the inside of the building reported that you could still make out “White Men” on the door of the men’s restroom.

Teddy Roosevelt made a speech in Carlisle back in 1905, delivering it from the back of his special train.  President William Howard Taft also spoke from the back of his special train in 1912.

This is the Lonoke Arkansas Rock Island Railroad Depot.  This pressed brick and tile roof structure was built in 1912 to replace the previous depot which had burned down.  Note the semaphore signal on top of the building.  If the signial was horizontal, that was the signal for the train to stop.  If is was vertical the trains would just steam on through town.  The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and it’s now the home for the Chamber of Commerce and other city offices.

The little park adjacent to the depot was built as a memorial to Joseph E. Singleton, the stationmaster at this depot for 26 years.  Lonoke was served by regular passenger trains until 11/9/67, when all passenger service ceased.  The town was also serviced by Rail Diesel Cars…self propelled passenger coaches…until 8/8/64.  For more on this interesting mode of rail transport, just go to
One last item of interest… Legend has it that this town of roughly 4,245 people was originally named Lone Oak, after a huge old red oak tree located near the railroad junction.  Later, it was misspelled as “Lonoak”…and then again subsequently misspelled one more time as “Lonoke”…and the name stuck.
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for another little blog related to rail and local history!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. It sounds like railroads are your hobby, Dave. This was really interesting and I'm impressed you seek out these buildings. I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Blessings...Mary

  2. my son would have loved to live somewhere like this when he was little--so charming!

  3. interesting adventures you have!!
    i live close to Carlisle Pa