Historic Structures

Missouri Pacific-Texas Railroad Train Station, Alexandria Louisiana

Date added: April 6, 2018 Categories: Louisiana Train Station

In 1882 the Texas and Pacific Railroad Co. received the franchise for the Texas to New Orleans line of the New Orleans Pacific Railroad Co. and on September 11 of that year, the first regular service between New Orleans and Shreveport was established. This service was followed by five other lines connecting Alexandria to various locals in Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas. With the establishment of these lines, the lumber industry in central Louisiana, which was basically a "sleeping giant", gained considerable momentum, bringing Alexandria to the brink of its so called "golden age". Many Northern lumbermen came to Alexandria to capitalize on this new wealth in wood.

By the last decade of the century, visible signs of this new railroad-based economy began to appear: 1888 saw the opening of the town's first bank since the Civil War and the first large lumber mill was established by two Pennsylvania natives -Mr. Joseph A. Bentley of Hotel Bentley fame and Mr. Zimmerman.

With all this railroad activity, the need for a new passenger station was popularly recognized. The LA Railroad Commission ordered the Texas and Pacific and the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway companies to build a brick, stone or concrete depot. Ultimately, the depot was built and opened on December 3, 1909. At one point in the cities' history 28 passenger trains reached Alexandria in any given 24 hour period. Because of the railroad facilities, the Catholic See City was moved from Natchitoches to Alexandria in 1910. The Second World War, with the many troop installations around the area, only added to the train depot's necessary contribution to the city, its economy and its social status.

The original plans for the building which were executed between 1908-1909 called for the best materials, the most commodious surroundings and the most lavish details both within and without. The building is one story, rectangular shaped, detached brick and stone structure. It contains 10 distinct bays, excluding the covered passageway which separates the passenger service area from the baggage and express area.

The interior of the station was made of curly pine.

The white waiting room was 36 x 34 feet. Doors led from the waiting room into a retiring room for the ladies which was 17.5 x 14 feet in size. The adjoining toilet facilities were 12.5 x 8.5 feet in size. The men's room was similar in size and layout, except that the anteroom was called the "smoking room", instead of the "retiring room". The black ("colored") waiting room was 36 x 34 feet. The adjacent men's and ladies' washrooms were 17 x 14 feet in size, including the adjoining toilet facilities.

The ticket office was 14 x 19 feet. This room projected toward the track side of the building. In the north end of the building, separated from the passenger department by a 20 foot open space, but under the same roof, was where the baggage room and express room was located. The baggage room had a concrete floor and was 26 x 34 feet. The express room had a concrete floor. It was 26 feet square. There was over $1500.00 worth of copper gutters, and copper finishings on the building.

The Missouri-Pacific railroad station virtually remained in its original condition from its opening in 1909 to its closure in the mid 1960s, except for some minor upgrading and renovations.

Besides the formal gardens on the 10th Street side of the station, the paving pattern of the surrounding walkway around the station was laid in a herringbone pattern.

Vitrified paved bricked platform 700 feet long from Jackson Street past the station and down into yards existed at the time of the station's completion.