L & N Passenger and Freight Train Station in Wetumpka AL

Louisville and Nashville Railroad Depot, Wetumpka Alabama
North Elevation (1974)

The Louisville and Nashville Railroad Depot in Wetumpka is typical of the turn-of-the-century depots built in smaller towns by the L & N Line. Constructed in 1906 during a financial panic, it helped provide a stimulus to the town's growth after a period of population decline.

Wetumpka was first settled in 1820 and grew rapidly because of its location at the head of navigable waters on the Alabama River System. In the 1840's, Wetumpka had grown to be a promising town of 3,000 or more; the state penitentiary had been located there in 1839 and the city was a candidate for the site of the new state capital. In 1846 when Montgomery was chosen over Wetumpka as the site of the capital, a process of population decline began that continued until after the close of the Civil War, leaving Wetumpka with less than 200 inhabitants in 1870.

The first railroad line built to Wetumpka was the Louisville and Nashville which Opened in 1872 and connected Montgomery with Decatur. This line, passing through the rich mineral region surrounding Birmingham, was until 1894, the only link between the northern and southern sections of the state. With the arrival of the railroad and the selection of Wetumpka as the county seat of the newly formed Elmore County in 1866, the town again showed signs of growth, acquiring by 1880 a population of 1,500. In 1881 L & N built a small station.

In the early 1900s due to a decline in industrial development, the town again lost population and went into an economic slump. In the middle of the financial panic of 1906, in which all local banks were closed, the L & N Railroad Company went ahead with plans to build a new depot in Wetumpka to replace the inadequate earlier station. This act inspired confidence in the economy of the community and by 1910 the panic had subsided and the population had grown by 50%.

The station served as a passenger and freight depot until the 1930's when regular passenger service was terminated. Since that time it served as a freight depot until it was closed around 1972. It has been recently acquired by the First United Methodist Church of Wetumpka and its future is uncertain.

Building Description

The Wetumpka Depot is a small one-story frame structure built in a T-shape design, a plan used extensively by the L & N Railroad. The building, which measures approximately 30 feet by 127 feet, is divided into 2 sections, with freight storage on the western end and the passenger terminal on the eastern end. The exterior wall treatment is weatherboard with wainscoting of vertical flush boarding on the passenger terminal section.

The west or freight end of the depot, which consists of one large room, measures approximately 101 feet by 26 feet. The gabled roof of the freight house extends 6 feet to form an overhang supported by decorative brackets. This portion of the depot rests on brick piers, 3 feet in height. The floor extends 6 feet beyond the exterior walls on the north and south sides to form a loading platform. Access is provided by 3 large sliding wooden doors on either side, which open onto the loading platform. A single door opens into the agent's office.

The east or passenger terminal section of the depot, which forms the crossbar of the T, measures 30 feet by 26 feet. Built on a slab foundation, it is divided into 3 rooms; the entire northern side serves the passenger agent's office, while the southern side is divided into 2 waiting rooms. This section has a bisecting gable roof; a shed roof supported by brackets extends below the gable on each of the 3 exterior walls. On the northern and southern sides of the terminal are 4 by 12-foot projections. The southern projection is divided between the two waiting rooms, and the northern one was used by the ticket agent to watch for trains. Single doors with simple transoms are located on each of the three sides of this section of the station, and provide access to the waiting rooms and passenger agent office.

The depot is in good condition structurally but has suffered from neglect and vandalism since it has been vacant.

Louisville and Nashville Railroad Depot, Wetumpka Alabama South East Corner (1974)
South East Corner (1974)

Louisville and Nashville Railroad Depot, Wetumpka Alabama North Elevation (1974)
North Elevation (1974)