Monday, August 20, 2012

Northern Alabama – 2 More Depots Plus

On the last day of our Arkansas road trip, we drove along Alabama’s 2-lane highways as we worked across the northern and north eastern part of the state.  I had a number of old railway depots marked on my map that were reputed to have survived and as we cruised through these small towns, we kept our eyes open for the next photo op…

The first railroad depot that we came across was a true old timer… This brick passenger and freight depot in Scottsboro Alabama was built back in 1860 – 1861.  It’s over 150 years old.  The depot was built by the Memphis and Charleston Railroad and it’s one of only 3 surviving pre-civil war depots in the state of Alabama.  A serious skirmish was fought over the depot during the war.  I found where the Jackson County Historical Society had undertaken a project to transform the old depot into a local museum.  The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This town of about 15,000 is famous for at least 2 reasons.  First, it is the home of the Unclaimed Baggage Center.  This retail outlet processes, cleans and tests unclaimed luggage from the airlines and other sources, and then they put it up for sale on their 40,000 sq. ft. sales floor.  There are real deals to be had!  Check it out at
Scottsboro’s other claim to fame is historical and it isn’t an upbeat story.  The town was the core location for the sensational ‘Scottsboro Boys’ Trials.  Basically, 2 white girls accused a group of black boys of raping them while they all were ‘riding the rails’ back in 1931.  The evidence was poor at best and the witnesses were unreliable.  Still, this incident took place in the South in an era where a black man could be hung for just talking to a white woman.  Bottom line…after repeated trials lasting until 1937, several of the black youths were convicted.  This was despite the Supreme Court’s involvement with 2 landmark decisions.  In 1946, one of these men skipped out on parole… He and his family were discovered in New York City in 1976.  For more on this sad episode in US jurisprudence, you can go to

This handsome passenger depot is located in Stevenson Alabama.  The depot was built in 1872 for use by both the Nashville and Chattanooga and the Memphis and Charleston Railroads.  One railroad’s tracks ran on one side of the depot and the other passed on the opposite side.  Even today, CSX freight trains pass by the station on this side and Norfolk Southern trains pass by on the other side of the station.  

This is the Stevenson Hotel… It too was built in 1872 and it’s located between the tracks right next to the depot.  The saying was that “The hotel was so close to the tracks, that passing trains opened the windows and pulled the covers off the beds”.  This building is now being used for the town’s offices. 

Here’s a photo showing just how close the two building are to each other.  Back in the days of early steam locomotives, the trains would stop here to pick up the necessary coal and water.  That would allow the passengers sufficient time to disembark and have a meal at the hotel.  Both buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

This GE 44 Ton Switch Engine and the Extended-Vision Caboose are on static display adjacent to the Stevenson Alabama Railroad Depot.  A total of 385 of these diesel locomotives were built.  In addition to the USA, they’ve also seen service in Canada, Australia and Sweden. 

There is a website listing for the Stevenson Depot Railway Museum…but the site appears to be inactive or just gone.  Stevenson is a town of only about 1,800 people and they may have had a tough time keeping the museum operating.  The listed website is
The town does have a “Depot Day’s” celebration every June.  Among other events and activities, they stage a Lawn Mower Race, a parade, an Ugly Woman Contest, an auto collectors rally and a street dance.
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge it.
Thanks for riding along on the back roads with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

1 comment:

  1. My grandfather worked for the main hotel in town and it was directly across the street from the RR depot