Thursday, July 12, 2012

Railroad Depots #3 – Arkansas

Rolling along the 2-lane highways of Arkansas… We were on our way to Rogers to attend a memorial service for one of our old friends.  No matter why the reason for the trip…we always prefer getting off the Interstate System when we have the time. 

So… Once we’re off the ‘superslab’, our trips almost always reveal something of interest…in this case, 3 more old railroad depots.

Our route took us north from Lonoke to the town of Beebe.  This town started out as just an intersection of the railroad with the road that later became Arkansas Rte. 31.  The town now has a population of 7,315 and it’s actually growing. 

This depot was built in 1910 by the Missouri-Pacific Railroad.  It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  The town was named after Roswell Beebe, the President of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad.  The first train actually rolled through town back in 1872.  The current tracks belong to the Union Pacific Railroad.
In 2011 Beebe made the national news twice in a 12 month period.  The first time was when 3,000 blackbirds and starlings fell from the sky…dead.  The second time was a repeat performance…this time with over 5,000 dead birds!  It was determined that fireworks caused the first ‘die off’. 

This is the former Missouri-Pacific Railroad’s freight and passenger depot in Clarksville Arkansas.  It was built in 1910 in the Mediterranean style that was so prevalent at the time.  The building used to have a tile roof to match the architecture but unfortunately it’s been replaced with conventional roofing materials.  The depot is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The town of Clarksville has a population of about 9,300 and the area is known for it’s peach crop.  The depot is now owned and used by the Chamber of Commerce.  While the Union Pacific mainline runs right through town, unfortunately the tracks next to the depot have been removed…

Believe it or not, this was the Missouri-Pacific Railroad Station in Altus Arkansas.  It’s located right on U.S. 64 and it was built ca. 1920.  The building was used as a community center for some time but, as you can see, it’s now the home for ‘Big T Liquor’.  The first depot was built for the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railway back in 1874.  The last passenger train came through here on May 15, 1936.

The area around Altus was once a center for coal mining but the last coal mine closed by 1940.  As a matter of fact, there is a monument to coal miners adjacent to this building and it’s made from columns of solid coal.  This little town of roughly 825 is now the center of a wine growing region…with 4 wineries in the immediate vicinity.
The town’s other claim to fame was as the focal point for one of television’s first reality shows. (FYI…I really don’t like reality shows!) In any case, back in 2001, Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie arrived in town to begin filming their original show, “The Simple Life”.
Just click on any photo to see a close up of any of these depots…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. This is very interesting and of course, I shared it will Bill since he is a RR man, starting out with the L&N many years ago in Louisville. I'm not very informed about the MP, but Bill filled me in and your post did also. Interesting with the coal mines too! I enjoyed your Bob Evans post below, could totally relate to it and left you a comment there.

  2. I remember when those birds died..i thought that was the strangest thing and yet was hardly mentioned....I grew up in the coal mines of Pa...take a road trip here sometime!!

  3. this is so neat--and i remember the show the simple life--i actually thought it was pretty good---sorry about your friend