Historic Structures

Aberdeen Station - Frisco Railway Depot, Aberdeen Mississippi

Date added: July 30, 2021 Categories: Mississippi Train Station

The St. Louis and San Francisco Railway (Frisco) began as the Pacific Railroad incorporated in Missouri in 1849. In 1876 this line was purchased by W. F. Buckley acting for the recently incorporated St. Louis and San Francisco Railway. The Frisco's entry into Mississippi came in 1901 when it acquired the lines of the Kansas City, Memphis and Birmingham, a railroad connecting these three cities. In 1925 the Frisco gained control of the Muscle Shoals, Birmingham and Pensacola Railway, which extended north from Pensacola to Kimbrough, Alabama, By June 1928 the line from Pensacola had been joined to existing Frisco lines by a new section of track following the Torabigbee River Valley. The Aberdeen Station was built at a junction point along this new line.

The Aberdeen Station was not the first depot the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway erected in Aberdeen. Daniel Burnham designed the first one which was built on Maple Street in 1888.

The following description of the Maple Street Station, could be applied to the Aberdeen Station built almost forty years later:
The stations at Fort Scott, Kansas, 1885-1887, Kewanee, Illinois, 1887, and Aberdeen, Mississippi, 1888, typified the mode. Low-slung and hugging the ground, with wide overhanging eaves and simply decorative supporting brackets, such stations were usually of painted wood or red brick and had slate or shingle roofs. Crisp and unpretentious provincial train stations in an era of railroad opulence, they would seem to later generations refreshingly "modern" precursors of much that Wright and the Prairie School would develop and extend to other types of buildings, especially houses. Although the working drawings of the 1929 Frisco station are titled "Passenger Station at Aberdeen, Mississippi," on both 25061 and 25065 original station drawings the partially erased designation "East Aberdeen" can be seen under the eventual title. This change had been made by the time the Aberdeen Examiner announced the station's opening reporting that the new station would be known as the Aberdeen Station while the older structure would be called the maple Street Station. ("New Frisco Station Here in Use Today," Examiner, March 2, 1930) The Maple Street Station was demolished in 1971.

During the 1920s the Frisco, like other railroads, was interested in the development of the territory it served. A 1927 article in the Aberdeen Examiner discussed how the Frisco planned to attract truck farmers to the area. Mr. R. H. Whitlow led the effort and advised "all purchasers to buy only as much land as they can pay for and operate." The newspaper concluded that, "the plan of bringing in colonies of thrifty farmers from the north and west is being managed by experienced men, all along the line, and has every prospect of success." ("Frisco to Encourage Immigration to Monroe County," Examiner, Nov. 18, 1929)

A brochure published by the Frisco Railway entitled "The Tombigbee Valley of Mississippi and Alabama" (no date) underscores the Frisco's desire to develop the area along the Tombigbee below Aberdeen. This twenty-one page illustrated booklet extols the Tombigbee River Valley mentioning in closing that a special department of the Frisco stood ready to aid farmers as long as they remained in the region.

After the Frisco closed the Aberdeen Station, it was occupied by the Morris Ready Mix Concrete Company, which moved into the building on February 14, 1957.

A ready mix cement plant was erected on the grounds. For the first two years of operation from 1957 to 1959 sack cement was unloaded from Frisco cars and stored in the Baggage and Express Room from which it was loaded onto cement trucks. Later cement was unloaded from Frisco hopper cars by auger and dropped onto a conveyor for storage in bins. Once every week a Frisco maintenance crew would make an overnight stop at Aberdeen, parking their motorized rail car on the side track and storing their tools in the tool room (former Colored Waiting Room) until their departure the next day. Catherine West, who was the secretary for Morris Ready Mix, planted the rosebush at the southwestern corner of the building in 1957. She also set out tomato plants on the eastern side of the building every summer. On June 30, 1968 Bradley Cement Company bought out Morris Ready Mix. Bradley continued to occupy the station until June 18, 1971.

When the Maple Street Station was demolished in 1971, Frisco moved its Aberdeen office to the station.