Bird's Eye View of Central Station

Key to Central Station Photo for Classic Trains
1. Central Station
2. Central Station Powerhouse
3. IC Inbound Freight House
4. IC Outbound Freight House
5. Mail Handling Building
6. Railway Express Agency
7. IC Warehouse
8. Business car track
9. Switch tender shed that housed the controls for the traffic light.
10. Calhoun Street.
11. South Main Street
12. "Broadway"
13. IC South Yard
14. Former freight lines
15. NC&StL tracks

On October 4, 1914, Memphis Grand Central Station opened for business at Calhoun and South Main Street. The station complex was located on the approximate location of the Calhoun Street station. The complex was constructed at a cost of $1,400,000. Originally it was intended that the Poplar Street station (starting point for "Casey" Jones last trip) at the north end of downtown was to close except for local accommodations. However, some version of that station remained open into the late 1960s. The new station was originally used by trains of the Illinois Central, Yazoo & Mississippi Valley (IC subsidiary), Chicago Rock Island & Pacific, and the Saint Louis-San Francisco railroads. Rock Island and Frisco always backed their trains into the station. After Memphis Union Station closed on March 31, 1964, the Louisville and Nashville moved their remaining trains into Central Station until returning to Memphis Union Station Dec. 1, 1966. The Rock Island ended its service from Central Station Nov. 10, 1967 and the Frisco on Dec. 9, 1967. The Illinois Central trains continued to use the station until they were incorporated into Amtrak. Central Station underwent a major remodeling (date ?) including new facilities for Amtrak. For more information concerning Memphis Central Station see: More information concerning historical railroading in Memphis can be found at:

This bird's eye view of the Central Station area looks due south. The station had 10 tracks, 5 stub and 5 through tracks. The stub tracks were used by the Rock Island and Frisco trains while the through tracks were used by the IC trains. The tracks of the station are located above street level while the freight house tracks are at street level. Central Station was located in the heart of railroad action in Memphis. Along Calhoun Street from east to west were the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific freight house (5 blocks east), Memphis Union Station (2 blocks east), Nashville Chattanooga & St. Louis freight house (1 block east), Central Station, Illinois Central In-bound freight house (1 block west), St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern (Missouri Pacific) In-bound freight house (2 blocks west), Missouri Pacific Out-bound freight house (3 blocks west), and Frisco bluff yard (4 blocks west). Only Central Station remains of these many railroad structures.

Central Station is located along the passenger main of the Illinois Central through Memphis. A few blocks south of the station is the crossing of the Illinois Central and the railroads along "Broadway". The Frisco, Southern, Missouri Pacific, and Nashville Chattanooga & St. Louis have lines along "Broadway". Traffic through this crossing was controlled with the aid of an ordinary traffic light located on a tall pole in the middle of the complex of crossing tracks. The traffic light was controlled from a small switch tender shanty. The Rock Island and Cotton Belt used trackage rights of the Missouri Pacific and its subsidiary Arkansas & Memphis Railway Bridge & Terminal Company to reach their tracks across the river in Arkansas. These tracks were dispatched from a single story tower between the tracks at Kentucky Street, 3 blocks west of the IC crossing. Signal-bridge "A" of Memphis Union Station was located just east of the IC crossing. The semaphores on this bridge were controlled from Tower 17 in the wye of Union Station.

Illinois Central South Yard was located just south of the "Broadway" crossing. The Yazoo & Mississippi Valley back shops, roundhouse, and IC coach yard were located in South Yard. The Rock Island had a coach yard near the Mississippi River bridges west of the IC crossing. The Frisco coach yard was parallel to Central Station west of the crossing. In later years the Rock Island and Louisville and Nashville used the engine terminal in South Yard.

Today Amtrak uses only a small portion of the station. The office and ticket window are located on the upper concourse. The station rest rooms occupy a portion of the lower concourse. The office tower is now filled with apartments. The Railway Express Agency area is also filled with apartments. The stub track area as well as most of the through track area is now a parking lot for the station, the apartments, and the local police precinct. Access to this parking area is through the area once occupied by the IC warehouse at the south end of the station. The main waiting room s now a reception hall for parties. The location of the IC freight houses is a city bus transfer terminal for the south end of downtown. The station powerhouse is an art gallery. Central Station is now served by the Main Street and Riverfront Trolley lines.