Friday, April 3, 2015

Railroad Depots Along the Road Home

Rolling north from Fairhope Alabama on our last day of our trip to New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta area, I’d mapped out our route so that I could check out a few old Railroad Depots along the way…

The first depot we came to after leaving Fairhope was located in the county seat for Baldwin County…Bay Minette Alabama.  This depot was built by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in 1911 and the exterior remains almost as it was back in the structure’s early days.  Note the ubiquitous caboose to the right of the depot…

Settlement in Bay Minette began in 1861 when the Louisville and Nashville (L and N) Railroad reached the area.  The town became an important junction for the L and N.  The town currently has a population of a little over 8,100.

I always like to see these old depots being re-purposed.  In this case, the former depot is now home for the Bay Minette Chamber of Commerce.

Baldwin County is the largest county in Alabama with an area of over 2,000 square miles.  By way of comparison, the State of Rhode Island has an area of only 1,214 square miles.

Historical Factoid: The original Baldwin County seat was Daphne, which is located just north of Fairhope.  When the State passed legislation supporting the change, city fathers in Daphne resisted.  So, Bay Minette’s town leaders devised a scheme to lure the sheriff and his deputy out of the Daphne with a false story about a murder.  While the law officers were pursuing the fictitious killer, a group of Bay Minette men stealthily traveled to Daphne, stole the courthouse records, and delivered them to the new courthouse in Bay Minette. (Politics at its finest!)

The former L and N Railroad Depot in downtown Evergreen Alabama was completed in the spring of 1908.  The depot was described as “an ornament to the town” and a source of pride for everyone.  According to a newspaper report for that time, it was “the best and most ornate outside of large cities”.  There were 3 waiting rooms, ‘sanitary closets’, a baggage room, an express room and freight room in the rear of the building.  It was also one of the first buildings in Evergreen with electricity.

The Evergreen Depot serves as the offices for the Evergreen-Conecuh County Chamber of Commerce, with a conference room that’s rented out for social gatherings, meetings, festivals, etc. 

Evergreen was founded in 1819.  The town’s current population is about 4,000.  William B. Travis, the Commander of the Texas forces at the Alamo was from Evergreen.

…and yes, in case you were wondering, a caboose sits right behind this old depot too!  This is a “Bay Window Caboose”.  In this type caboose, the crew monitoring the train would sit in the middle of the car by the protruding ‘bay windows’.  This type of caboose afforded a better view of the side of the train, eliminated the falling hazard of climbing up into a cupola and it lessened the clearance/height requirements for tunnels and overpasses.

Not all depots fare as well as those in Bay Minette and Evergreen… This decrepit structure is the former Louisville and Nashville Railroad Depot in Clanton Alabama.  It was, or is being used for storage by the Chilton Feed and Seed Company… I couldn’t determine when this depot was built.

This town of a little over 8,600 people was founded in 1868.  It was named in honor of General James H. Clanton, a Brigadier General in the Confederate States Army.  Clanton is the county seat for Chilton County.

As evidenced by this fast moving Union Pacific freight train, at least the rail line is still active.

Of note is the fact that Chilton County produces 80% of Alabama’s peach crop.  The town of Clanton is well known for its 120-foot high, 500,000-gallon water tower which is constructed and painted in the shape of a giant ripe peach.  Chilton County’s landscape is a diverse mix of swamps, prairies and mountains.  This variety is due to the foothills of the southern portion of the Appalachian Mountains…which actually end in the county.

Just click on any of the photographs to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. I like the continued use of the old depots as well. I see lots of RR pictures like this where the locomotives are on someone else's trackage - even see some mixed like a couple of CSX and a UP in South Carolina. I assume the RR's are sharing them or renting to one another.

  2. I think it is so neat that you all map out things to do when driving from here to there --on a trip.... You are experiencing the 'real' USA.....

    Since I grew up in the railroad area in southwest Virginia (and since Daddy worked for the railroad), I LOVE old depots.. My favorite (as you know) is at Bristol. I do love how towns (many of them) make something special out of old depots which are no longer used.... Great post.

    Have a blessed Easter.

  3. The first two look very southern and a reminiscent of my childhood & the Cotton Belt RR. I think re purposing is definitely the way to go. Counting all of the different restaurants, plantations, RR stations & other stops along the way I would say you used your time on this trip very advantageously. Have a great Easter.

  4. This is a lovely and nostalgic posts! I love trains!!
    Happy Easter dear David for you and Laurie!!

  5. wow what an interesting post and loved reading about the history. Thanks for sharing