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The Madison Record

Historic Depot found during county day trip

We seem to do a lot of day trips on our weekends now that we live here in the relaxing and beautiful South. With my husband and best friend now retiree’s we seem to have more time to get away for a fun day trip or weekend get-a-way. This past weekend we discovered one great place to visit and it’s right in our own backyard.

Our latest day trip took us to downtown Huntsville to make a visit to the historic Depot (http://www.earlyworks.com/the-museums/train-depot) located at 320 Church Street NW. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Depot once served as the local passenger house and corporate offices for the eastern division of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad.

The Depot served as an active passenger station until 1968, and the original depot now stands as a symbol of Huntsville’s transportation history and growth. Tour guide Jason Bruening provided an enjoyable and informative tour of the three-story, 151- year-old building. It is the oldest surviving railroad depot in Alabama and one of the oldest in the United States.

Huntsville was occupied by Union forces in 1862 during the Civil War as a strategic point on the railroad and the depot was used as a prison for Confederate soldiers. Graffiti left by the soldiers can still be seen on the walls of the third floor where they were incarcerated. We were able to check out and climb on locomotives, take
a ride on the trolley, see the “round house” and historic buildings, and listen to robotic ticket agents tell about working for the railroad. We also listened to an informative video on the history of the Depot. Our tour guide provided a wealth of information about the history of Huntsville, the Depot, Civil War, and the South.

The historic Depot is a great place to visit and is an excellent venue for anyone who enjoys railroads, trains, or history. It is definitely “kid friendly,” so if you are a parent or grandparent, I encourage you to load up the family van or car and take time to stop in for a visit.

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