Last Day of Memphis Union Station

NRHS Bulletin, Vol 29 #4.
Contributed by Bill Pollard

The following photos were taken by Lyle Key on the last day of operation of Memphis Union Station, March 31, 1964. Lyle took black and white, color, and movies of this last day of operations. Some of the movies were assembled into a video tape as part of Greenfrog's "Passenger Trains of the 1960s: Volume 1"

Lyle Key Photo
The front of Memphis Union Station on it's last day, March 31, 1964.

Lyle Key Photo
Lyle used this Patterson Transfer bus to transfer from Central Station to Union Station. For more pictures of this bus and the company that owned it, view Patterson Transfer.

Lyle Key Photo
View from Waiting Room looking south toward tracks. Last Day March 31, 1964.

Lyle Key Photo
MUS SW1 #10. Note the MP express cars and also Central Station in background.

Lyle Key Photo
Southern Train 36 "The Birmingham Special" is ready to depart for, not to Birmingham, but Chattanooga! This engine, along with E-7 2914, had just brought in train 45 "The Tennessean" into Memphis and was quickly serviced at the Engine House and added to train 36. Only one unit was required for this "all stops" local to Chattanooga, TN.

Lyle Key Photo

The Southern Railway employed an efficient use of passenger locomotives on their trains into Memphis. The longer trains were Numbers 45-46 "The Tennessean" and normally operated with two locomotives.

The secondary train on the line were numbers 35-36, oddly named "The Birmingham Special", since you could not go to that city on this train. At Chattanooga a Memphis section used to split off the New York to Birmingham train, however, by this juncture the only through cars were one or two express cars. Passengers had to make an across the platform change at Chattanooga. This train carried a smaller number of cars into Memphis, therefore only one locomotive was required into Memphis.

After train 45 "The Tennessean" backed into MUS, in the morning, the two locomotives were quickly uncoupled and sent to the Engine House. The lead unit was uncoupled, fueled and serviced and then became the lone unit on outbound train 36, the eastbound "Birmingham Special". Likewise, in the afternoon, the procedure was reversed. The lone unit from inbound 35 was fueled and quickly serviced and then added to the "lay over" engine which was sitting all day at the Engine House. Together, they now formed the outbound power for train 46 that evening.

Here is the view of the "lay over" engine E-7 2914 at Union Station Engine House. After train 35 arrived on this date, engine 4136 will added to the front of the 2914 to become outbound power 46, "The Tennessean".

Lyle Key Photo
Southern No. 45 "The Tennessean" has just backed into Union Station. These units will quickly be serviced and the lead unit 6136 will take train 36, "The Birmingham Special", solo, eastward in about 90 minutes to Chattanooga.

Lyle Key Photo
Here is a view of L&N train 101 "The Humming Bird" after backing in from Cincinnati. Lyle has on his notes that this train arrived at Union Station 4 hours and 35 minutes late. The GP-7 will be quickly serviced at the Engine House and be used later that evening for the trip north to Bowling Green, while the passenger cars operated all the way to Cincy.

Lyle Key Photo
L&N GP-7 gets a quick servicing at the Engine House at MUS. It will leave shortly on train 104 and haul that train to Bowling Green, KY.

Lyle Key Photo
Here is a view of the head end of the last No. 46 to depart Memphis Union Station. This unit had arrived earlier that afternoon on train 35, "The Birmingham Special". So the last Tennessean left Memphis with the 4139 and 2914 on the head end on that day.

Lyle Key Photo
Pullman Porter on Tennessean #46 greets passengers for his 14 Roomette 4 Double Bedroom car at Memphis Union Station.

Lyle Key Photo
The conductor is "pulling the cord" to give the engineer the Highball to leave Union Station for the last time. He is residing on the Pullman car named "Wauhatchie Valley", a 14 Roomette 4 Double Bedroom car. Also note the red kerosene lantern near his foot and the elaborate train sign listing the major cities along this route. Memphis Union Station No. 10, and SW-1, is parked on Track 8.

Lyle Key Photo
L&N FP-7 number 615 has the distinction of being the last train 108 to operate out to Memphis Union Station. This train will travel over the old "N.C.& St.L." route via Jackson, Bruceton and finally arrive in Nashville, TN early the next morning.

Lyle Key Photo
The Conductor gives one last wave before he and his brakeman board train 108 for the last time at Union Station. This train still carried a heavy volume of mail and express on its leisurely overnight trip to Nashville. The train operated over the old "Nashville, Chattanooga & St.Louis" line out of Memphis via Jackson and Bruceton, TN.

Lyle Key Photo
L&N train 108 has left Union Station on its overnight trek to Nashville. Wouldn't you love to turn the clock back to ride aboard this local train into the night. Not one, but a pair of kerosene marker lamps are lit on the rear of the lone coach. How railroading has changed over the years.

Bill Pollard Contribution
This article appeared in the April 1, 1964 issue of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Bill Pollard Contribution
This article appeared in the April 1, 1964 issue of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Lyle Key Photo
Here is a view of the mail being loaded on MP train 37 on the last day of Union Station on March 31, 1964. Tomorrow, the MP will revert to using its former "St.Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern" depot, now called the "Freight House" which was located at 43 W. Calhoun Street. Train 37 made its last trip out of Memphis on August 26, 1965 from this turn of the century facility.

Lyle Key Photo
Here is a view of the train crew of the last Missouri Pacific train 37 to Little Rock, Ark. on March 31, 1964. By this date, no through passenger or mail cars operated beyond Little Rock. The passengers had to make a change of platforms and the mail and express had to be trans loaded onto the other connecting trains in the Arkansas capital city.

For information about the Memphis Union Station.

For information about the Memphis Central Station.

For information about the The evolution of Memphis passenger stations
contributed by Bill Pollard.

Memphis Passenger Train Timeline 1952-2004
(Data compiled by Phil Gosney)

This page was designed and is maintained by Mike Condren. If you have materials
that you would like to contribute, contact me at mcondren@cbu.edu