History of the Nashville, Chattanooga & St.Louis Railway Depot 582 South Royal Street
Jackson, TN> 38301
The Tennessee Midland Railroad Depot open its doors for the east to west trackage in Jackson on June 1888. The Tennessee Midland Railroad was purchased by the L & N Railroad in 1898. The L & N also gained controlling interest of the N.C. & St.L. Railway through a stock buy out . They combined the two railroads and released it back to the N.C. & St.L.Railway for 99 years and operated it as a separate company. The Tennessee Midland depot was used until 1906 when it was moved 200 yards east of its location, to be used as a general freight office. The present depot was built across the street by the N.C. & St. L. Railway in 1906-07, with the freight office and warehouse on the east side of the new depot. Mayor Hu Anderson welcomed dignitaries to the new structure with a grand opening. In the late 1800’S and early 1900’s depots were like community centers, people set around and socialize. The depot had many surrounding attractions including Landcaster Park which its waters was famous for its “healing powers”.Other interest were a zoo, ballpark,swimming hole, lakes and Johnny’s popcorn.
Two circuses, Ringling Brothers, Haggenback and Wallace, and a carnival, the Royal American show unloaded here and presented their show. The depot was just a fun place to hang out to see who came in and left on the many trains each day. The other railroads in town went north to south,while the N.C.&St.L. went east and west from Memphis to Nashville,Chattanooga, Atlanta. From Atlanta the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad would take you to your Florida vacation. The N.C.&St.L. Railway played a big part in the nations railroads. This was the only railroad that made money during the depression. They had a passenger train named after the the city of Jackson called the Jackson Bell. It ran from Jackson to Memphis in 3 hours and 15 minutes. In the 1940’s they put on a train called the City of Memphis that made the round trip from Memphis to Nashville in record time, it averaged 47mph. Most of the men from this area leaving for WWII hopped the train from this depot. 100’s of folks came down to send them off with big celebration.
In the 1950’s the N.C. & St.L Railway was the first in the nation to have total centralized block system control. This along with declining passenger service and the need for tighter control of finances forced the L.& N. Railroad to consolidate the two roads in 1957. 1958 was the last time the N.C. & St.L. Railway ( name) stopped in Jackson. The L. & N. Railroad continued to run the route until 1967 although the last few years it was just a night train. The N.C. & St.L.. Depot was used as a Trails Ways Bus terminal until the Mid 70’s and then the doors closed. Due to the efforts of a few rail fans in Jackson, the City of Jackson purchased the depot in 1994. It is the only depot left in Jackson, a town who’s heritage is deep rooted with the railroad industry. Today the depot remains in close to original condition and houses a museum of local railroad history.
Now in 2021 the Depot is closed future uncertain.
Information obtained from various sources
More information about Jackson Railroad history
How the Railroads Came to Jackson
Mobile & Ohio Railroad
The first was the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, started in October, 1849, in Mobile, AL. With plans to build to the Ohio River at Cairo, IL. The endeavor ran out of funds and was taken over by investors in Jackson, TN. Under the direction of Judge Milton Brown, who later became a U.S. Congressman from the Jackson District.
The line first entered Jackson in 1851 and was later opened between Jackson and Columbus, KY. in 1858. The first passenger train ran between Jackson and Columbus that same year and made its first passenger run to Cairo in 1874. These tracks were completely destroyed during the Civil War (1861-1865).
The Civil War battle at Shiloh ( which Southern troops called the Battle for Pittsburg Landing) sixty- five miles southeast of Jackson was fought for the North to take control of the railroad junction at Corinth, MS.. It would take away from the South its east-west as well as its north-south supply line railroad which was the Mobile & Ohio RR. that merged with the Gulf, Mobile & Northern RR. in 1940 to become the Gulf, Mobile, & Ohio RR. Illinois Central Railroad
The second railroad to enter Jackson was the Mississippi Central & Tennessee. A special charter was obtained by Jackson investors from the State of Tennessee on November 30, 1853 to extend the line from Grand Junction, TN. to Jackson. The line was built to Bolivar, then to Medon and on to Jackson in 1857 to link with the M&O RR in order to move freight north from Jackson. In 1873 the line was contracted and later absorbed by the Illinois Central RR. which then built its own line to Cairo, IL.
Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railroad
The Tennessee Midland Railway Company line from Memphis to Jackson was the forerunner of the N.C. & St. L. RR. This line was often referred to as the “NC” by locals. Like all other railroads to enter Jackson, it was built with funds subscribed by citizens and investors of Jackson.
The first passenger train to enter Jackson from Memphis was on June 1,1888. The train used the Illinois Central freight house as the Jackson Depot. Construction was then started on the line eastward to Paducah and Nashville.
In April of 1895, a new train called “The Jackson Bell” began operation between Jackson and Memphis. It made the trip in an unheard of speed at that time in Three hours and fifteen minutes.
In the same year, the line now named the Tennessee Midland and Paducah was sold to the Louisville & Nashville RR. The L & N RR immediately leased the line to the N.C. & St.L. RR for 99 years. The highly profitable railroad was merged into the L. & N. RR following WWII. After only a few years , the L. & N. was merged into and is now part of C.S.X. Transportation Corporation. C.S.X. Now reaches Jackson from Milan over the West Tennessee RR which leases the former Illinois Central main line from present owner, Norfolk Southern Railway
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad
In 1917, the citizens of Jackson voted to issue bonds worth $100,000 to extend the Gulf, Mobile & Northern RR from Middleton to Jackson. This line was completed in September of 1919 and the Birmingham and Northwestern was merged into the G.M.&N. In 1927.
The M & O and the GM & N railroads each had branch lines with colorfull nicknames. The Okalona, Houston and Calhoun City, westward out of Okalona, MS. was, in jest, often called the “Okalona Horse and Cow Company”. The Birmingham and North Western, northeast out of Jackson was sometimes called “The Beer and No Whiskey”. This branch became the cornerstone of a large national railway system from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes.
In 1912, a young Jackson banker, Isaac “Ike” B. Tigrett, was hired as president to run the forty-nine mile branch until a “more competent” person could be found. While waiting, he merged the parts of approximately fifty railroads under the entity(1940), Gulf Mobile and Ohio Railroad, that streted from Mobile and New Orleans to St. Louis, Chicago and Kansas City, with Jackson TN. as its corporate headquarters and soul of the GM & O RR.
This company became the model of the modern railroad merger movement. In this year of 2006, there are only seven major railroads in the United States.
During the 1930s through the 1960s one could board fifteen regularly scheduled passenger trains at the two depots in Jackson. The names of some of those trains were “The Rebel”, “The Gulf Coast Rebel”, “The Sunchaser”, “The Floridian”, “The Seminole”, “The City of Memphis”, and “The City of Miami”. With out change of train, one could travel to Memphis, Nashville, Meridian, Montgomery,
Mobile, Birmingham, Jacksonville, Daytona, Orlando, Miami, Centralia, Champaign-Urbana, Springfield, Chicago, St.Louis, Jackson, MS. and New Orleans as well as other cities.
The GM&O and the Illinois Central used Union Station on North Royal and Deadrick Streets. The station has been demolished. The N.C. & St.L. Used the depot built on South Royal Street in 1907