Passenger and Freight Train Station in AL


Southern Railway Depot, Piedmont Alabama
Date added: February 03, 2024 Categories: Alabama Train Station Passenger Station Freight Station
Looking Northeast at front & south side of building (1983)

The Southern Railway Depot at Piedmont is a small mid-19th century board and batten train station. Designed for the Selma, Rome and Dalton Railroad Company, it is similar to at least one other station in Calhoun County and reflects Italianate influences in its bracketed cornice, segmental-arched windows and board and batten siding.

The Selma, Rome, and Dalton Railroad brought modern transportation and increased prosperity to the small community of Cross Plains (later called Piedmont). New businesses and homes sprang up around the depot which served as the center of the rapidly growing town. This new form of transportation opened to the community many opportunities not readily available before the railroad came.

The construction of the final link of the Selma, Rome and Dalton Railroad between Jacksonville, Alabama and Dalton, Georgia was completed in 1870 with the rail reaching Cross Plains (later called Piedmont) in 1868. With the coming of the railroad the S, R & D Railroad built a combination passenger and freight station at Cross Plains. The depot was complete and in service at the time the rail was completed from Selma, Alabama and Dalton, Georgia. As mentioned before the coming of the rail brought an economic boom with the S, R & D making numerous stops in both directions daily. Due to financial difficulties the S, R & D filed bankruptcy in 1872 but continued operation until foreclosure was complete and the company was acquired by the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad in 1881. On July 11th, 1870, an incident that began with a fight at the depot changed the entire future of Piedmont. In what has come to be known as the Luke incident four blacks and one white man were hanged by an angry mob. The white man, Mr. William Luke, was accused of teaching the negro to read and write in his capacity with the railroad. As a direct result of this incident, plans for moving the headquarters and repair shops of the Selma, Rome and Dalton Railroad from Selma to Cross Plains were cancelled. It is believed that this decision by the railroad kept Cross Plains from becoming a large metropolitan area as is Rome, Georgia and Selma, Alabama.

The depot continued to be the center of activity for many years with train travel virtually the only means of transportation to distant places. The depot saw men depart for four different wars during its heyday.

Passenger service was discontinued in the late 1950s; however, the depot continued in service until December 1981 when it was closed by Southern Railway Company.

Building Description

This depot building is a combination of several romantic styles that were popular during the period immediately before the Civil War. The cornice has an Italianate influence.

Built in 1868, the depot is a wood frame structure with board and batten siding on the exterior. The main portion of the structure is rectangular measuring 26' x 32-6". The main portion has a hipped roof structure with double brackets supporting the overhangs on all sides. The upper portion of the exterior wall is richly decorated with heavy moldings and an indented frieze board that terminates the vertical battens. The original openings for doors and windows are well-proportioned and have a slight arch over the heads. The doors have transom lights that match the window arch.

The window sashes are double-hung with six panes in each sash.

On the south side, a large bay window structure extends outward to allow the station master to view down the adjacent railway tracks. On the west side a similar construction extends outward and houses small toilet areas but originally was probably the entrance porch or vestibule. Several of the interior petitions are later additions.

The main portion is divided into four rooms, the two rooms on the west being public areas and the remainder on the east side for railway operations and staff.

Extending from the east side is the freight warehouse structure. It measures 26' x 47' and is enclosed in a board and batten exterior which is not as decorated as the main portion. The wood structure, though not as tall as the main portion, appears to have similar wood from construction and was probably built as part of the original building.

The structure continues easterly in the form of an open dock which is 32' x 54 feet long. This dock is constructed on concrete piers and is probably not part of the original building.

The entire structure was roofed with tin roofing which was later covered with a decorative copper simulated shingle roof.

Two chimneys extend above the roof of the main portion. Fireplaces provided the original heating but later were bricked in and iron stoves were installed utilizing the existing flues.

The basic structure consisted of brick foundation walls topped with a 8" x 6" still. 3 1/2" x 10" floor joists rest on the sill with a 1 x 4 pine flooring installed directly to the wood joists. The basic wall structure consists of 2" x 6" framing at approximately 24" O.C., with the interior of all walls covered with 1" x 3" tongue and groove paneling. The ceiling paneling matches the wall paneling. The ceilings are fourteen feet high with heavy mouldings at the ceiling cove. The opening casings consist of 1" x 4" flat stock with large back bands. The original doors were four-panel rail and stile with heavy paneling moldings, only one of which exists in the structure.

The warehouse structure is similar to the framing of the main portion except for a heavy 2" thickness flooring and no interior paneling occurring on walls or ceiling. The warehouse windows are not as tall as the main portion but have the same arch at the head. Six-foot x eight-foot sliding freight doors occur on each side of the warehouse and also have the arched header. Two other swinging double doors occur in the walls of the warehouse and open onto the adjacent dock platform. Horizontal iron bars occur on the inside of the windows for security.

The exterior color of the original building appears to be light gray. The interior was originally varnished but was later painted.

Southern Railway Depot, Piedmont Alabama Looking Southeast at front of building (1983)
Looking Southeast at front of building (1983)

Southern Railway Depot, Piedmont Alabama Looking Northeast at front & south side of building (1983)
Looking Northeast at front & south side of building (1983)

Southern Railway Depot, Piedmont Alabama Looking Southeast at east and north side of building (1983)
Looking Southeast at east and north side of building (1983)

Southern Railway Depot, Piedmont Alabama Interior of Freight Room to the east (1983)
Interior of Freight Room to the east (1983)

Southern Railway Depot, Piedmont Alabama North Wall South Passenger Waiting Room (1983)
North Wall South Passenger Waiting Room (1983)

Southern Railway Depot, Piedmont Alabama Southwest Waiting Room Wall & Ceiling (1983)
Southwest Waiting Room Wall & Ceiling (1983)

Southern Railway Depot, Piedmont Alabama Wall and ceiling in agent office (1983)
Wall and ceiling in agent office (1983)