Huntsville Depot Museum
The Huntsville Depot Museum is one of the oldest railroad depots in the United States. Located on the Norfolk Southern Railway line in downtown Huntsville, it is the oldest surviving railroad depot in Alabama. Created by The Memphis & Charleston Railroad Company, the Huntsville Depot became the company's Eastern Division Headquarters in the 1860s. This made the depot instrumental in the development of rail travel and the growth of Huntsville itself.
Backstory and Context
Created by The Memphis & Charleston Railroad Company in 1860, the Huntsville Depot became part of the company's Eastern Division Headquarters. The headquarters continued to grow and expand, and other buildings were added to improve its functionality.
"by the late 1860s, the headquarters included the depot, a freight station, a 13-bay roundhouse with turntable, an engine house, a car shop, and a machine shop."4The depot building itself contained many types of rooms such as offices, restrooms, baggage rooms, and bunk rooms for employees.
The Huntsville Depot was a vital Confederate rail link during the Civil War. On April 11, 1862, the depot was captured by Union forces, resulting in the imprisonment of 159 Confederate soldiers within the depot itself. The depot was returned to The Memphis & Charleston Railroad Company after the Civil War, but the company eventually went bankrupt, causing the depot to be sold to the Southern Railway System in 1898.
The Huntsville Depot remained in operation for many years after being purchased by the Southern Railway System. It was renovated in 1912 and was operated as a passenger station until 1968. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
2. Vollers, Anna Claire. "Historic Huntsville Depot no longer open regularly to public; will focus on special events," AL.com. Accessed June 2, 2016. http://www.al.com/news/huntsville/index.ssf/2015/02/historic_huntsville_depot_no_l.html
3. Early Works. Accessed May 21, 2019. https://www.earlyworks.com/historic-huntsville-depot.
4. Slaten, Julie. Huntsville Depot and Museum. Encyclopedia of Alabama. March 02, 2017. . http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-3872.