Depot Doings: Bessemer, AL / Knoxville, TN / Leeds, AL / Toccoa, GA

southern-railway-logoFeatured Southern Railway depots this month are those in Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia:

The Alabama Great Southern Railroad Company completed construction of the Bessemer passenger terminal in March 1916 at a cost of $30,000. The structure is 170 ft long and 50 ft with exterior walls of pressed brown brick. The ticket office was located in the center of the building and today contains original cabinets and desks. Today the depot is home to the Bessemer Hall of History.

The depot at Knoxville was built in 1903. The Southern Terminal is a former railway complex to include a passenger terminal and express depot adjacent to a large railyard. During the 1850’s the arrival of the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad and its predecessor lines transformed Knoxville into one of the southeast’s major wholesaling centers. In 1894 the ETV&G was absorbed by the Southern Railway, which in turn became part of the Norfolk Southern Railway in 1982.

The depot at Leeds, AL was built in 1883-84, following the completion of the Georgia & Pacific RR between Birmingham and Atlanta. The G&P remained until it was taken over by the Richmond & Danville RR in 1885, succeeded by the Southern Railway in 1894. Efforts to save the building were in 1980 after the Southern merger with Norfolk Southern. The depot was added to the National Register of Historic Places prior to the restoration completion in 1984. In 1999, the City of Leeds turned the old baggage room into a public meeting room. Two other rooms in the depot are a museum featuring railroad history, records and artifacts.

The depot at Toccoa, GA was built in 1915. Much, however, is known about the adjacent railroad line. Built originally as the Atlanta & Richmond Air-Line in 1873. In 1877, the railroad was renamed Atlanta and Charlotte Air-Line Railway and in 1894 became part of the Southern Railway, which in turn became the Norfolk Southern. Today the Amtrak Crescent (old Southern Crescent) makes regular stops there. The depot has been restored to its appearance in 1940 and houses the Toccoa-Stephens Chamber of Commerce, the Welcome Center, the Stephens County Historical Society and Currahee Military Museum.


Rock on Trains © 2020, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.

Canadian Corner/Depot Doings: Kingsville, Ontario, Canada

canadian-flag-smallKINGSVILLE,
ONTARIO DEPOT
On the Pere Marquette / C&O Rwy

The depot at Kingsville, Ontario, Canada was built in 1889 on the Lake Erie, Essex and Detroit River Railway. Originally owned by Hiram Walker, the line and depot later became part of the Pere Marquette Railroad. Still later, it was acquired by the Chesapeake & Ohio which owns the depot today, although it is no longer used for passenger service.

Kingsville is located about thirty miles east of Windsor, Ontario on what used to be a single track between Windsor and St. Thomas. East of St. Thomas, the C&O uses ex-New York Central tracks. Several C&O freight trains still pass over this route on the way to Buffalo, New York. Those trains, coming from Detroit through the Michigan Central railroad tunnel, take the Penn Central out to a Pelton Interlocking where they switch to the C&O mainline. Passenger train service on the Pere Marquette line ended in the mid-1920’s; however, many of the depots on the line were eventually refurbished for freight-only service. The first floor originally consisted of a Ticket Office, located where the semicircular bay window is at trackside, a Gent’s Waiting Room, a Ladies’ Waiting Room and a combination Freight and Baggage Room where stairs to the second floor are located.

The second floor consists of a small hallway from the stairs leading to a single large chamber that has a series of small windows facing trackside. To the left of the bay window is an opened and curved covered porch that adjoins a porte-cochere to the rear of the building. It was probably once used as a carriage entry and exit point. When the depot was first built there was a raised platform in the Freight and Baggage Room which occupied about half the room next to the large freight door. Another platform of equal height joined this same wall on the exterior of the building. Both were used for the handling of freight and baggage. The exterior platform no longer exists but it is shown in the drawings.

The chimney, like the exterior walls, is of stone and the roof peak joints are covered with a galvanized iron projection. All windows on the first floor are set in deep casements and entry doors are crowned with an arched design.

The Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad still staffs the Kingsville depot with a part-time agent. The former waiting room is now used as a storeroom and kitchenette for the maintenance-of-way crews.

Article courtesy of the Mainline Modeler April 1990
Text Credit: Julian Cavalier
Drawings made expressly for Mainline Modeler. Copies of these drawings may be made for noncommercial use only.


The depot slowly fell into disrepair in the 80’s with its abandonment. The timeless images below were taken from 1972 to 2003 and reflect on the station’s many years of neglect. Through tireless efforts and what seemed like constant delays, the citizens of Kingsville prevailed in keeping this exquisite piece of railroad architecture preserved for future generations. After full restoration, the depot now houses a beautiful Mediterranean-style restaurant, Mettawas Station.


Rock on Trains © 2020, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.

Depot Doings: Montville, CT / Kittitas, WA / Wallace, NY / St. Matthews, SC / Davenport, IA / Danbury, CT

Hope you enjoy this month’s mix of restored depot photos courtesy of GodFatherRails:


Rock on Trains © 2020, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.

Depot Doings: Oliver Springs, TN / Bryson City, NC / Decherd, TN / Chatsworth, GA

Featured Southern Railway depots this month are Oliver Springs, Tennessee (1980), and Bryson City, North Carolina (1978). The Oliver Springs and Bryson City depots have been restored. The Oliver Springs depot houses the Oliver Springs Historical Society, and the Bryson City depot houses the Great Smoky Mountain Railway excursions.

Featured Louisville & Nashville (L&N) Railway depots are Decherd, Tennessee (1978), and Chatsworth, Georgia (1980). The Decherd depot has been removed from service, and the Chatsworth depot was relocated and restored in 1990. It currently houses a museum of railroad and talc industry memorabilia.

Southern Railway Depot: Oliver Springs, TN – 1980 (Credit: Tom Rock)

Southern Railway Depot: Bryson City, NC – 1978 (Credit: Tom Rock)

L&N Railway Depot: Decherd, TN – 1978 (Credit: Tom Rock)

L&N Railway Depot: Chatsworth, GA – 1980 (Credit: Tom Rock)


Rock on Trains © 2020, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions.  All rights reserved.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.

“Pardon Me Boy, Is That the Chattanooga Choo-Choo?”

This blog entry features my 1991 painting of the the Southern Railway’s Terminal Station in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The title of this painting, “Pardon Me Boy, Is That the Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” was chosen to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Glenn Miller’s big band era hit song which was recorded May 7, 1941. This painting, which is comprised of two images, shows the majestic building front as viewed from Market Street and the rear where the trains departed, reviving a more tranquil time in railroad history.

By the 1970’s, declining rail traffic to Chattanooga forced Southern Railway to close the doors of Terminal Station. The Birmingham Special, Train No. 18, became the last regular passenger train to pass through Terminal Station. On August 11, 1970, at 11:35PM, the Birmingham Special departed Terminal Station and headed for Washington, DC. The windows of the station were boarded up, as its once immaculate interior began collecting dust. The abandoned station faced the sad prospects of demolition.

Fortunately, a group of two dozen local investors had a much better idea for the old station; the investors obtained the property from Southern Railway, and with an initial investment of 10 million dollars, converted the old Terminal Station into a family vacation complex second to none.

My two images of the Choo-Choo took five (5) months and 325 hours to complete. I’m including several development photos taken during its creation. When my lithographs were released in 1991, I mailed a set to Jonnie Miller Soper (Glenn Miller’s daughter) along with Paula Kelly Turner and Tex Beneke, both singers of Glenn Miller’s famous song. Not long after the prints were mailed, I received very nice thank you notes from all three recipients (see images below). Unfortunately, Paula (d.1992) and Tex (d.2000) have passed away, but Jonnie is still living. This 8-minute video clip on YouTube shows Tex and Paula performing the Chattanooga Choo-Choo song.

“Choo-Choo” rear Preliminary Development Photo

“Choo-Choo” rear at 30 hrs development

“Choo-Choo” rear at 56 hrs development

“Choo-Choo” rear at 122 hrs development

“Choo-Choo” rear at 150 hrs development (complete)

Click here to view/purchase this print at Rock on Trains.

“Choo-Choo” front Preliminary Development Photo

“Choo-Choo” front at 30 hrs development

“Choo-Choo” front at 90 hrs development

“Choo-Choo” front at 175 hrs development (complete)

Click here to view/purchase this print at Rock on Trains.

Paula Kelly Turner thank you letter

Tex Beneke thank you letter

Jonnie Miller Soper thank you letter

Click here to visit Rock on Trains and view/purchase your “Choo-Choo” print set.

Thank you for your interest!


Rock on Trains © 2020, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions.  All rights reserved.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.