Wednesday, July 8, 2009

More Train Stations

I have, of course, been dutifully snooping out train stations wherever I go. This continued snooping revealed to me that I have led you, the readers, astray! Yes, the building at the corner of Beebe Capps and Main that I mentioned in a previous post is NOT, in fact, the Searcy train station. It is undoubtedly a former train building (as the nearby tracks and loading docks declare), but the actual depot lies just a few feet away on Main Street. It is so devoid of visible train-features that I have missed it up until now.

The depot, the last remaining of (I think) three depots which once stood in Searcy, is a completely unassuming building. In hindsight, it displays many more of the qualities of a depot than the larger building on Beebe Capps and Main, but is much smaller than even the depot in Bald Knob. I'm not sure if this is representative of Bald Knob once being a more prosperous city, or if it just means a smaller railroad owned this depot (I know for a fact that it wasn't owned by Missouri Pacific, for example). There is a rustic wooden loading dock hidden away on the side of the building, visible only for those with hawk-like eyes for railroad paraphernalia. Not me, in other words. Here a couple of different views of the building:

Though the decrepit nature of the depot would seem to indicate its vacancy, this sign near the front door claims otherwise:

While I don't see Searcy's railroad potential going up any day (or year) soon, this depot makes me just a little more hopeful.

I'm not done yet, though; there are a few more depots to talk about.

A much earlier trip to Newport, Arkansas (original stomping ground of one Sam Walton; more on that another time) revealed their gorgeous and well-maintained train station in an otherwise moldering downtown sector. Like most depots in this area, it's in the traditional Italianate style, complete with large decorative brackets. I would postulate that the depot in Searcy had brackets at one point, but given its present condition, nobody really cared to maintain them. The depot seems to be home to some sort of meeting/event hall these days, but the trappings of railroad life lie all around it. Here are some more views:

The last station I'd like to talk about is one of the largest I've seen in my life. It's Union Station in Little Rock.

According to Amtrak's web site, Little Rock's Union Station was built in 1921 after a fire destroyed the original building. It also once held a record for being the largest station hosting only one railroad. As you might have gathered, it's the first station I've mentioned on this site which is actually still in use as a station. Amtrak loads its intermittent passenger cars from here, with it and Walnut Ridge being the only two stations left in operation in Arkansas. Boo. I don't have an altogether wonderful picture of Union Station in its entirety, so here's a link to Amtrak's page on it. Meanwhile, enjoy another picture of the station's magnificent tower.


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