RESEARCH NOTE: Addresses, and to some extent station names, are subject to revision. The Official Guide of the Railways issue dates are not necessarily the effective dates of changes being discussed. Letter designations of stations are as assigned by the Official Guide in the "Index of Railway Stations." A date listed as "circa" (ca.) indicates that the date was obtained from a secondary source (book, later day newspaper article, etc.) These dates should be viewed only as general guidelines, to be refined with additional research. Specific dates (month-day-year) were obtained from primary source material (contemporary newspaper accounts, timetables or annual reports, etc.) and are considered definitive.
Ca. 1852:Memphis & Charleston railroad begins service between Memphis, Germantown and Collierville as tracks are built eastward toward Stevenson, AL and a connection with other lines. The M&C was the first railroad in Memphis.
Ca. 1854: Memphis & Charleston staton constructed on Charleston St. (later Lauderdale, now Danny Thomas.) The building was the headquarters of the railroad, as well as a passenger and freight depot. Prior temporary loading facilities had been on Beale St.
May 1-2, 1857: Great Railroad Jubilee in Memphis, celebrating opening of Memphis & Charleston Railroad.
Early 1858: Memphis & Little Rock placed in operation from Hopefield (opposite North Memphis) to Madison (a point on St. Francis River, 40 miles west of Memphis.
Ca. 1861: Mississippi & Tennessee Railroad completed, linking Memphis TN with Grenada MS, allowing connections via Mississippi Central to Jackson MS and New Orleans.
April 10, 1861: Through service starts between Memphis and Louisville, via the Memphis & Ohio (Memphis-Paris), Memphis Clarksville & Louisville (Paris-Guthrie) and Louisville & Nashville (Guthrie-Louisville). The Memphis terminal was located at North Main & Auction Streets.
Ca. February 1862: Memphis & Little Rock advertised service between Memphis and Little Rock, but trackage was only completed between Hopefield - Madison and DeValls Bluff - North Little Rock, with stage and riverboat transportation bridging the gap between Madison and DeValls Bluff. Tickets could be procured at Memphis & Charleston ticket office in Memphis.
Ca. August 1866: Mississippi & Tennessee shops, originally at Hardy, MS, were moved to Memphis. The original shop building was where the IC tracks (in 1912) intersected Calhoun Avenue on the south side. The M&T passenger station at that time was a small frame building several hundred feet southwest.
November 11, 1869: Discussion and promotion of need for a Union Depot in Memphis
April 11, 1871: Last spike driven in Memphis & Little Rock (at DeValls Bluff) thus completing all-rail route from Hopefield to Huntersville (North Little Rock.) Connection to Memphis via ferry service.
1880: L&N acquired majority stock control of the NC&StL (Hickman KY-Nashville-Chattanooga). Through Pullman and coach service was inaugurated between Nashville and Memphis, via the L&N-NC&StL connection at McKenzie, TN. [Overnight Pullman service on this routing continued until World War I.]
Ca. 1883: Chesapeake, Ohio & South-western RR began using property at northwest corner of Front and Poplar for their Memphis passenger depot.
Ca. 1884: C.P. Huntington completed a transcontinental line from Chesapeake Bay to San Francisco Bay, with the last spike being driven on the Louisville, New Orleans & Texas near Bobo Station (near Hushpakana, MS). This last spike completed the line from Newport News to New Orleans, where Huntington's more famous line, the Southern Pacific, was waiting. The Mississippi River crossing was handled by a ferry between Harahan and Avondale. By 1888 the alliance was beginning to unravel, the C&O was on the verge of bankruptcy, and within a few years Huntington lost control of large segments of the route.
May 1886: E.H. Harriman elected president of Mississippi & Tennessee Railroad, after purchasing a controlling interest in the road. Three years later, the line was leased to the Illinois Central for 400 years.
November 1887 Official Guide
Illinois Central RR operated Chicago-Fulton-Jackson TN-Grand Junction-Grenada-Jackson-McComb-New Orleans. No direct route served Memphis, although IC served Memphis via connection with the M&T RR at Grenada, with through Pullman service Memphis-New Orleans. IC offered cross-platform connection at Fulton (with NN&MV) to allow Chicago-Memphis travel, and also operated a through Pullman St. Louis-Memphis via Milan and connection with L&N RR. No through Chicago-Memphis service was available. IC's subsidiary Yazoo & Mississippi Valley RR operated only Jackson MS-Yazoo City-Greenwood.
Louisville, New Orleans & Texas Ry (the Mississippi Valley Route) operated 455 miles, between Memphis & New Orleans, via Tunica, Lula, Clarksdale, Leland, Vicksburg and Baton Rouge. At Leland, a branch extended westward to Greenville and to Huntington, a point on the Mississippi River where cross river connection was established with Little Rock, Mississippi River & Texas at Arkansas City, AR. Through Pullman car service operated, without change, between New Orleans, Arkansas City, Little Rock and St. Louis, and between New Orleans, Memphis, and Louisville [north of Memphis, thru car operated via CO&S-W.]
Memphis & Little Rock Timetables did not specify which Memphis station is used (two options shown in Official Guide Index of Stations.) Through car service: first class coaches operated between Atlanta and Little Rock via both McKenzie (L&N) and Chickasaw (M&C) routes. Woodruff Buffet Sleepers operated between Little Rock and Memphis, connecting [change of cars] with Pullman Sleepers on both L&N and M&C at Memphis. [Different sleeping car operating companies probably precluded operation of through sleepers over M&LR.]
Memphis, Selma & Brunswick not listed in contents of 11-1887 Official Guide, but shown in Index of Stations.
Mississippi & Tennessee RR operated 100 miles between Memphis and Grenada, making close connections with Illinois Central at Grenada. E.H. Harriman was president of M&T; line's close affiliation with Illinois Central reinforced by M&T listing in Official Guide appearing on an ICRR page.
Newport News & Mississippi Valley Company was a holding company operating two divisions:
November 1887 Memphis Stations
November 16, 1887 The Memphis branch of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern reached the Mississippi River, connecting Memphis with the Iron Mountain mainline at Bald Knob. Service to Memphis apparently provided by Iron Mountain ferry, possibly the S.D. Barlow. The S.D. Barlow was a sidewheel transfer boat, wooden hull, built at Madison, Indiana in 1888. It later burned at the Birds Point incline opposite Cairo on March 11, 1898.
Ca. 1888: An ornate, two story brick structure was constructed at the corner of Calhoun & Main streets by the Illinois Central. The station complex also included a one story building extending along the tracks; this structure (built ca. 1874) had originally been part of the Mississippi & Tennessee Railroad's shop complex. The stone trim above the main arched entrance on Calhoun carried the name "CENTRAL DEPOT," although it was later referred to both as Calhoun Street Station and as Union Depot.
September 6, 1889: Work had begun on the North Memphis Union Depot, with more than 200 men and nearly half as many teams employed at the Auction & Front streets site, grading and removing dirt. [It is presumed that this referred to construction of the brick depot carrying the initials LN&GS, although other references suggest that the LN&GS station was built ca. 1880-1884.]
Ca. 1890: Memphis Poplar Street station was constructed to serve the Newport News & Mississippi Valley (CO&S-W) service in Memphis. The building was expected to be a major terminal in rail magnate Collis P. Huntington's dream of a transcontinental railroad made up of the Chesapeake & Ohio, the CO&S-W, the LNO&T, and the Southern Pacific. The magnificent red stone structure on the Memphis skyline helped to fuel a temporary boom of real estate values in north Memphis, which was fighting a losing battle against the southward and eastward migration of the city. Passenger waiting rooms were entered from Front Street, with long steps down to the track level.
July 1891 Official Guide
Illinois Central: the Mississippi & Tennessee RR had become the Memphis Division of the IC, still operating Memphis-Grenada. Through Pullman buffet-sleeper operated New Orleans-Grenada-Memphis-Kansas City (via KCFtS&M). Through St. Louis-Memphis Pullman now operated via Fulton and connection with NN&MV (rather than via Milan and connection with L&N.) Chicago-Memphis service still required cross platform change at Fulton. Y&MV not mentioned in IC listing and not shown in OG table of contents; former Y&MV line identified as Louisiana Division, Yazoo Branch of ICRR.
Little Rock & Memphis RR (former Memphis & Little Rock) Timetable shows both Memphis-L&N Station and Memphis-M&C Station, but all trains are shown arriving and departing L&N station; no times shown for any train at M&C station.
Louisville, New Orleans & Texas Ry Operates one through train between Memphis-New Orleans (with Pullman sleeper), also second train between Memphis and Vicksburg. Service from Huntington to Arkansas City via steamer Marion, to connection with StLIM&S. No through car service via StLIM&S.
Newport News & Mississippi Valley Company: C.P. Huntington, Pres. (NN&MV no longer directly controled the C&O Railway)
St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern: offered through sleeping car and coach service between Memphis and Little Rock, where connections were made with Iron Mountain through service to Texas.
Tennessee Midland: general offices Memphis TN. President Jno. Overton, Jr.
Operated Memphis-KC Junction-Somerville-Jackson TN-Lexington-Perryville, 135 mi.
July 1891 Memphis stations
May 12, 1892: Kansas City & Memphis Railway & Bridge Company opens the first railroad bridge across Mississippi River at Memphis. First known as the Memphis bridge (used by the Memphis Route), this bridge was later known as the Frisco bridge.
By 1892: both the Chesapeake & Ohio and the Chesapeake, Ohio & South-western were nearing bankruptcy. CO&SW had been driving down rates in search of traffic which it could divert from the L&N's Memphis line, so L&N was anxious to purchase the railroad to eliminate a competitor. At the same time, Illinois Central was trying to purchase the CO&SW from Fulton to Memphis. The Kentucky constitution prohibited purchase of parallel rail trackage, so L&N asked IC to buy CO&SW. L&N would then purchase CO&SW from the IC for $5,000,000 and would lease trackage rights between Fulton and Memphis to the IC.
November 28, 1893: IC and L&N attempt to purchase CO&SW after signing a complicated agreement in an effort to circumvent Kentucky laws prohibiting the purchase of parallel rail trackage, The Commonwealth of Kentucky (Jefferson Circuit Court, Chancery Division) brought suit against L&N to block the purchase on the basis that the purchase involved parallel trackage. The case was appealed to the US Supreme Court, which in April 1896 upheld the lower court decision. L&N was forced to give up its bid to acquire the CO&SW.
While L&N's purchase was tied up in the courts, IC began to purchase CO&SW securities, hoping to acquire the line without L&N's financial backing. The CO&SW, already nearly insolvent, went into receivership in December 1893 while the court battles raged and before IC acquired control. Only after the Supreme Court's April 1896 ruling was the Illinois Central to finally consummate its purchase of the line.
June 1893 Official Guide
Illinois Central: through Memphis-St Louis coach and Pullman sleeper now operated via Fulton and NN&MV connection. Through Memphis-Chicago Pullman sleeper also operates via Fulton in same NN&MV trains. NO Chicago-New Orleans service via Memphis; all through Chicago-New Orleans service via Jackson TN. No mention of through Memphis-New Orleans sleeper on IC Memphis Division (via Grenada.)
IC-Yazoo & Mississippi Valley: Y&MV had been revived as a wholly owned subsidiary of Illinois Central, to operate former LNO&T trackage Memphis-Vicksburg-New Orleans. Through Kansas City-Memphis-New Orleans Pullman sleeper (via KCFtS&M) now operated via Vicksburg rather than prior IC route via Jackson MS. Y&MV trains used NN&MV depot at Memphis.
Little Rock & Memphis RR: No through cars operated. Timetable effective October 9, 1892 (appearing in June 1893 Guide) lists service via Bridge Junction, and schedules approximately 35 minutes Riceville (milepost 12) to Memphis. Schedule of M&LR in 1887 operated via Hopefield and scheduled approximately 1 hour 20 minutes between Riceville and Memphis. It appears that LR&M began operating passenger trains via the Frisco bridge (rather than ferryboat transfer) soon after the Frisco bridge opened. This change may have affected LR&M station usage in Memphis (further research needed.)
Newport News & Mississippi Valley Company: (former Eastern Division now the Lexington Division of C&O Ry) Map shows "Mississippi Valley Route" as Louisville to New Orleans (NN&MV-Western Div + LNO&T), but timetables do not extend south of Memphis. Map apparently reflects brief period when LNO&T and NN&MV were closely aligned, prior to IC acquisition of the LNO&T. C.P. Huntington was still president of NN&MV Co.
St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern: offered through sleeping car and coach service between Memphis and Little Rock, where connections were made with Iron Mountain through service to Texas.
Tennessee Midland: now a subsidiary of Paducah, Tennessee & Alabama Railroad. Operated Memphis-KC Junction-Dummy Jct-Somerville-Jackson TN-Lexington- Hollow Rock-Paris-Paducah, 230 mi., also Perryville branch Lexington-Perryville.
June 1893 Memphis Stations
April 1896 U.S. Supreme Court ruling clears way for Illinois Central to purchase Newport News & Missippi Valley Company (Louisville-Paducah-Fulton-Memphis.)
November 23, 1898: At joint meeting of Memphis city council and legislative council yesterday, ICRR proposed to build a Union Station in Memphis at the corner of Main and South streets. In return, the IC would ask to be paid 5% of the receipts of the other railroads using the station.
September 1899 Official Guide
Choctaw & Memphis RR: Schedule (effective August 1, 1899) showed Memphis-Hopefield-Riceville, schedule time of approximately one hour from Riceville to Memphis, suggesting that passenger trains were again being ferried across the river at Memphis, rather than operating via Bridge Junction.
Illinois Central: most through train service had been shifted from Fulton-Jackson TN-Grenada route to Fulton-Memphis-Grenada route. All IC and Y&MV trains used Poplar Street Station. All former NN&MV trackage was now IC, and former NN&MV Poplar Street Station in Memphis had become the main Memphis station for the IC.
Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis: NC&StL had absorbed former Tennessee Midland, and operated one train daily between Memphis-Lexington-Paducah. A second train operated Memphis-Lexington. Memphis-Paducah train connected with NC&StL mainline trains (Atlanta-Nashville-Hickman KY) at Hollow Rock Junction, and with L&N trains at McKenzie. Through sleepers were operated Nashville-Memphis, but not direct over NC&StL. Sleepers operated Nashville-McKenzie over NC&StL, then McKenzie-Memphis over L&N.
September 1899 Memphis Stations
December 6, 1899: It was learned yesterday that the Calhoun Street station of the Illinois Central will soon be used by the Choctaw & Memphis as a passenger depot. The Illinois Central has not used the South Memphis depot in months, and minor cleaning and repairs will be required before the Choctaw & Memphis begins using the station on December 10, 1899. The C&M trains will come over the bridge, and this station will thus be very accessible. This station was formerly known as the Y&MV depot, and it is one of the most complete and elegant depot buildings in any city in the South where there is not a union station. There is not a depot building in the city that compares with it in any respect, and the only reason that the Illinois Central abandoned it for the Poplar Street station is that the latter is more centrally located and is as accessible for the southbound as the northbound service.
December 8, 1899: L&N yesterday received permission from the city council to lay 5 tracks across Third street north of Auction. These tracks will be necessary for the approach to the L&N's new freight station which will soon begin construction. Work on the freight depot will begin at once. It will be of stone, brick and iron, and will stand on the block south of the present tracks between Second and Third streets, and north of Auction street. Between the south side of the depot and the north line of Auction will run the five tracks. The first will be flush with Auction Street and the last will be against the south side of the new depot. The tracks will cut into the main line at a point near the bridge over Bayou Gayoso. The new building, costing in excess of $20,000, will replace the old wooden freight house, which will be dismantled. Across Third street from the new depot and south of the main tracks, the L&N plans to build a large cotton platform. North of the main tracks, east of Third street, cattle pens and chutes will be constructed. The company intends to construct more yard tracks, sufficient to hold 150 cars, which will greatly increase track capacity.
The "cut off" from Fitzgibbon's Grove to the NC&StL tracks, about three miles long, will be complete within the next 48 hours. This cut off will be used for switching purposes and if the union depot problem comes up, the L&N will be in a position to solve it to its own satisfaction. The L&N will have the spur from the "cut off" to Binghamton completed within the next two weeks if the weather remains good. It is understood that as soon as the spur is completed, the work of building cars at Binghamton will begin. This means that by January 1, Binghamton will have its second life as a manufacturing suburb.
December 10, 1899: The first passenger train over the CO&G Railroad left the Calhoun Street depot at 11:15pm last night, when the railroad inaugurated new through service between Memphis and Weatherford, Oklahoma Territory.
December 10, 1899: L&N Improvements- It was thought that when the crossover from the mainline of the L&N to the mainline of the NC&StL was first suggested, the new trackage might bring the abandonment of the North Memphis terminals of the L&N. L&N denied the rumor at the time, and their announced plan to build a new freight depot in the North Memphis location confirmed their intent to remain in North Memphis.
March 6, 1900: A meeting was held yesterday between Memphis city officials, led by Mayor Williams, and the Illinois Central Railroad, led by second vice-president J.T. Harahan. The IC had presented a petition, referred to the city council railroad committee, asking to make certain changes at the existing Calhoun street station, and asking for more right of way for tracks. Discussions hinged on whether Memphis was to have a new union passenger station which would be a credit to the city, or whether makeshift and ordinary improvements were to be made to passenger terminals and depot facilities which were already established. Officials of the IC noted that they had been reviewing options for a union station for two years. The mayor expressed concern that if the railroads were allowed to make minor changes and erect a new shed at the existing stations, that a new station would never be built.
March 8, 1900: Memphis city council reviewed the ICRR petition for additional track right of way in South Memphis. It had been hinted that IC would prefer to remain in their own station for competitive reasons, and also that the Iron Mountain and Cotton Belt might not participate in a union station.
April 2, 1900: The Memphis City council rejected the right of way petition of the ICRR, at the recommendation of the council's railroad committee. The question of a union station remained unresolved, and it was made known that management of the Memphis Route, NC&StL, Southern, and Iron Mountain were each considering making improvements to their existing properties if a union station proposal could not be advanced.
April 27, 1900: Yesterday a conference was held between officials of the CO&G and the ICRR, regarding the sale of tickets at the Calhoun Street station. It was agreed that, effective May 1, 1900, tickets for southbound IC travel would be sold for all southbound IC trains which stopped at the Calhoun Street station. All tickets for northbound trains would continue to be sold only at IC's Poplar Street station.
April 30, 1900: John Luther "Casey" Jones was called to take Illinois Central train #1 (the Southern Mail) south from Memphis to Canton, MS, after the regular engineer marked off sick. Jones, and his fireman had arrived in Memphis on #4 the previous day, and were normally scheduled to go south on #3. The IC crew change took place at Poplar Street Station, and after a brief stop at Calhoun Street Station, Casey rolled south on what would be his last trip.
February 1901 Official Guide
Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf: service via Hulbert (Frisco bridge) rather than Hopefield.
Illinois Central: no specific notation of IC serving more than a single Memphis station (Poplar Street), except note that Chicago-Hot Springs sleeper connects with CO&G at Union Station. Y&MV arrivals and departures shown to Poplar Street Station only.
NC&StL: service unchanged from 1899, including Nashville-Memphis Pullman via L&N at McKenzie.
February 1901 Memphis Stations
March 26, 1901: L&N announced that they will move their fast trains to the Calhoun Street station effective Sunday, April 1, 1901, using the "cut off" from the L&N to the NC&StL to access Calhoun Street station. The track of the cut-off and the NC&StL will support 50mph running, as established by inspection yesterday. That was an important consideration since the distance to South Memphis was greater for the L&N than it was to their existing North Memphis terminal, resulting in schedules being lengthened by 15 minutes to accommodate the change. L&N cars and locomotives operating to Calhoun Street station were to be stored in the nearby NC&StL yards and roundhouse.
Only L&N through trains were changed to run into South Memphis. The Humboldt accommodation trains continued to be operated into North Memphis with no change of schedule. For two weeks, a poll of passengers (on the accommodation train) was taken on the question of which depot was preferable, North Memphis or Calhoun Street. About 75% wanted the arrangements to remain unchanged, since they transacted a large part of their business in North Memphis and around the courthouse.
March 28, 1901: The personnel staffing Union Depot were announced, and it was also rumored that Iron Mountain and Cotton Belt might join the union station movement.
March 29, 1901: Advertisements by L&N, NC&StL, and Memphis Route, advised that effective April 1, 1901, trains would begin using Calhoun Street Station.
Railroad meetings were held yesterday to finalize plans for use of Calhoun Street station. In a meeting of the various rail officials, L&N Division Superintendent L.S. Robertson was made chairman of the board to control Calhoun Street Station. No terminal company was created control the depot for the present at least, though all the officials agreed that the step of the five roads going into one station means a hastening of consummation of plans for a union depot. For the present, the station and yards were to be under the control of a "Board of Control" with L.S. Robertson as chairman.
Initially, only the Choctaw, L&N, NC&StL and Memphis Route occupied the station proper. The IC trains would all stop in South Memphis, stopping on Senatobia Street rather than using the sheds of the Calhoun Street Station. IC tracks had been on Senatobia for a number of years, and in that location they were practically within the central station. The IC agreed to overhaul the station and put it into good shape, in a condition that would allow handling the business of the various roads to as good advantage as was possible under the circumstances. No enlargement to the building was contemplated at first, but minor changes were made to facilitate the business of all roads, such as combining the existing two big baggage rooms into one. Stationmaster Adkins, previously in charge of the L&N North Memphis passenger terminal, was given the position of night stationmaster at the joint station.
March 31, 1901: New station arrangement takes effect tomorrow, with L&N, NC&StL, CO&G, KCM&B, and KCFtS&M all occupying Calhoun Street Station. Supt. Robertson of the L&N, chairman of the board of control for the Union Depot, said that there would be no new tracks added. There was no room for track expansion unless IC gave up its Calhoun Street freight yards, which they were unwilling to do. Painting and general repair work on the station was underway, and was expected to be completed within a few days.
April 1, 1901: Calhoun Street Station (Union Station) is the closest Memphis will ever come to a true Union Station served by all railroads.
Between 4-1901 and 4-1902: Southern also moved to Calhoun Street (Union) Station.
April 1902 Memphis Stations
Oct 23, 1902: A delegation of railroad officials (including Stuyvesant Fish, pres of IC and J.T. Harahan, VP of IC) visited Memphis yesterday to look over the proposed site for a Union Station.
December 7, 1905: Beginning Sunday December 10, L&N will run a daily train from Memphis to Paris, and the Humboldt accommodation will run no further than Brownsville. Effective with this date, all L&N trains, including the accommodation trains, will use the union depot.
December 10, 1905: New Memphis-Paris train started on this date, thanks in part to agitation from Commercial Appeal for early morning train out of Memphis (thus allowing same day delivery of newspapers to outlying cities.)
Memphis Stations - April 1907, Jan & May 1910
January 1, 1909: New Union Station proposal collapsed, even though land had already been purchased and plans drawn. This collapse resulted in the later construction of two separate Memphis stations, Union and Grand Central.
September 25, 1909: Memphis Union Station Company chartered in Tennessee, for the purpose of constructing passenger station, power house, and car/locomotive servicing facilities on 23 acre site. $100,000 capital stock owned in equal proportions by L&N, NC&StL, StLIM&S, StLSW and Southern. Each road agreed to use this station as their exclusive Memphis terminal for a period of 50 years. Operating expenses to be paid by the 5 roads in proportion to the number of cars that each operated into the station. J.L. Lancaster was first president of Memphis Union Station Company (also president of Union Railway of Memphis.)
April 1, 1910: Construction begins on Memphis Union Station building.
March 30, 1912 (Saturday): 10,000 people passed through Memphis Union Station during the public open house before station opened for service. Street address. 199 East Calhoun St.
April 1, 1912: "New" Memphis Union Station opened for service at 12:01am. First train out was the Commercial Appeal's "Newsboy" over the Southern Railway to Florence, AL. Later acounts say that the first train out was #105 at 4:45pm. It is likely that the opening celebration involved #105 because the departure time of the Newsboy was before dawn.
1912-1913 -- dates to be determined. Old Union Station (Calhous Street station) razed in preparation for construction of new terminal. Existing tenants (RI and Frisco) displaced to unknown temporary facility while work underway, and while IC mainline tracks were shifted to east via "S" curve which also raised grade above street level.
October 1913: Steel workers started placing steel for the fourth story of the new Memphis Grand Central Station, which was being constructed on the southwest corner of Main & Calhoun, on the site of the old station.
November 1, 1913: Memphis Union Station issued $2,500,000 1st mtg. 5% gold bonds, due Nov. 1, 1959
November 1, 1913: Terminal Railway Post Office service established by Railway Mail Service in Memphis, with a number of trained RPO clerks assigned to an office in the DeSoto Hotel on Calhoun Street. (The DeSoto branch of the Memphis Post Office was located in the same building.) In cases where RPO clerks had not finished sorting mail at the end of their run, rather than remaining on overtime and sorting in the car, the remaining mail could now be transferred to the Terminal RPO for final sorting and distribution. Memphis was one of the first few cities chosen for implementation of the Terminal RPO service, along with Nashville and Chattanooga. About 60-70 other Terminal RPO's were expected to be established in other large railway centers across the country.
July 7, 1914: Rock Island occupies newly completed freight station on Calhoun Street at East Fourth. The red brick building, 50 feet wide and 500 feet long, with 5 house tracks and transfer platform on west side of station and wagon driveway on east side. The old Rock Island freight house, located on Front Street at the foot of Adams Avenue, was expected to also continue in service for carload freight until all terminal improvements were completed at East Fourth Street, after which it would be leased as a warehouse. Total cost for improvements at East Fourth Street were in excess of $1,000,000.
October 4, 1914: Grand Central Station, located at Calhoun & Main Streets, opened for business. Checked baggage and express service as well as mail handling was discontinued at Poplar Avenue station, but ticketing remained available at Poplar Avenue as well as at the City Ticket Office, 1 North Main Street. IC officials had planned to close Poplar Street station to all except local "accommodation" trains effective with the opening of Grand Central Station, but this plan met with disfavor from North Memphis businessmen. Memphis Mayor E.H. Crump intervened, and an agreement was crafted whereby all IC northern division trains except train #1 would stop for an experimental six-month period. No Y&MV trains operated north of Grand Central Station after the new station opened. IC General Superintendent A.H. Egan was quite vocal in his general displeasure of the agreement, as revealed in a letter to Mayor Crump: "We are apparently in a state of irreconcilable conflict. The contract of the IC with City of Memphis does not require us to stop trains at Poplar Avenue after the opening of Grand Central Station, except for the accommodation trains. I think you will agree with me that the IC is not breaking any contract in not stopping its through trains at Poplar Avenue. In order to meet the wishes of the patrons of this company, we will continue to stop all trains except #1 at Poplar Avenue to load and unload passengers only, for a six month experimental period. Please permit me to state again that the continuation of the stopping of through trains at Poplar Avenue is done contrary to the judgement of the management of this company, and solely for the reason that we desire to meet the wishes of our patrons and not operate in disregard of public sentiment."
Memphis Stations October 1914
July 15, 1916: Opening of Harahan Bridge across Mississippi River, providing a second railroad river crossing at Memphis. This bridge was constructed and operated by the Arkansas & Memphis Railway Bridge & Terminal Company, owned jointly by Missouri Pacific, Rock Island and Cotton Belt.
Ca. mid-1924: Photographs show that the large train shed at Poplar Avenue station had been removed, and sign on station reads "Southern Art Cooperative," one of several efforts made by Illinois Central to lease the building for alterative uses.
April 9, 1925: IC's Poplar Street station had been remodeled and was again in service. All IC trains except the Panama Limited and Train #1 stopped there daily. Mayor Rowlett Paine and a committee from the Chamber of Commerce visited the station to inspect the modern waiting rooms, new plumbing and heating systems, and new platforms. A new canopied entrance was added on Front Street for the convenience of passengers, and all waiting rooms had beem relocated to track level.
January 11 1931: Historic old Poplar Depot resists bludgeoning by time. Room by room and brick by brick, the old Poplar Avenue station seems stubbornly contesting destruction, lingering along on the Memphis skyline long after its days of usefulness are gone. Another rumor that it was to be torn down proved false last week, when IC officials explained that only the upper portion of the tower was being torn away, by order of the city building inspectors. Trains will stop at the old station, but merely to accommodate a few passengers. Its real usefulness ended with the opening of Grand Central Station. The IC has tried to rent it several times, and once an art company used it for a plant. Now, the windows are boarded up. The waiting room is abandoned. From the entrance a flight of stairs, walled off with beaver board, lead directly to the two remaining tracks.
May 1, 1935: Seventeen flat cars were switched into the Poplar Street Station yesterday, carrying floats from the New Orleans Comus Parade, sent to Memphis for use in the Memph Parade in conjunction with the Cotton Carnival. There was no vacant warehouse in town large enough, so the old Poplar Street Station, which has been collecting cobwebs since 1914, was utilized. Steel cables were wrapped about the building and extended to the old iron fence embedded in concrete. Tarps were spread across the web of cables to provide a tent for the tall floats. It was necessary to anchor the station by tying cables on the other side to counteract the pull of the tarps.
Poplar Street station (as of May 1935) was the oldest existing passenger station in Memphis. There was one built before it, the old Georgia Street depot, but it has been torn down. IC officials believe the old red building (Poplar Street) was built in 1891. The land was originally deeded to the Memphis, Paducah & New Orleans RR but was later acquired by the Chesapeake, Ohio & South-Western, from which the IC purchased it in 1897. IC had originally purchased the Mississippi & Tennessee RR, second oldest railroad to enter Memphis, to gain IC access to Memphis from Grenada. Poplar Street station has been practically abandoned since Grand Central Station opened in 1914. All the windows upstairs were boarded up and the glasses were broken. A few old ledgers could be seen, covered with dust. A caretaker stayed on the ground floor and the waiting rooms were kept open for people who wanted to catch the train there, but no tickets were sold in the station.
June 14, 1939: The ancient old red stone Poplar Street station of the Illinois Central, long a landmark, will be razed this summer, replaced by a new armory. Demolition will probably start in a week.
January 1, 1940: E.H. Crump took the oath of office as mayor, then promptly resigned. Crump had told the electorate that he was running as a stand-in for Congressman Walter Chandler who did not want to resign his seat in congress before a certain vote. Crump's political machine put out the vote, and he won handily, then turned the office over to Chandler. Crump was sworn in, resigned, and then boarded the Panama Limited to go to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
January 1942 Electro-Motive constructed a new diesel switcher for Memphis Union Station. Model SW1, c/n 1475, became Memphis Union Station Company number 10. (After the close of MUS, this locomotive was sold and became RSCX (Gadsen) #904.
March 17, 1943: City of Memphis was negotiating to purchase several lots on northeast and northwest corners of Calhoun and Second Streets, which were planned be converted into small parks by Memphis Park Commission to beautify the area around Union Station. (This became Army Park and Navy Park.) Union Station officials were so pleased with the prospect that they had signed a contract for cleaning the exterior of the station and the work was already underway.
March 19, 1943: Union Station plans growth and renovation at cost of approximately $100,000, according to an announcement yesterday by R.M. Dozier, present of Memphis Union Station Company. The entire exterior of the building will be steam cleaned to restore it to its 1912 appearance, and extensive painting and remodeling will be done on the interior. The work will be completed within 90 days, if the necessary materials can be obtained in that time. Two new platform tracks will be created from present storage tracks, and several existing platform tracks will be lengthened to accommodate more cars. New storage tracks will be built in a now unused portion of the yard. Another feature of the program will be construction of new trackage from the passenger station to the main line on Broadway, enabling trains to enter and leave the station twice as fast as at present. Included also is a new shop for servicing passenger coaches and diesel engines which has just been completed at a cost of $12,000.
According to Mr. Dozier, ticket sales and baggage handling has tripled, and the number of employees has increased 75%. Thirty-one regularly scheduled trains enter and leave the station each day, in addition to a large volume of troop trains. The main floor of the station is devoted to waiting rooms, ticket offices and similar uses, while the second floor is occupied by offices. The large restaurant seats 250 persons and during January it served food to 59,000 persons. At times when the restaurant is crowded with soldiers, it is closed entirely to the public.
September 28, 1943: L&N Trainmaster R.M. Marr has been elected to succeed the late Richard M. Dozier as president of Memphis Union Station Co. Marr has been secretary of the company for 25 years, and began his railroad career 31 years ago as a telegraph operator.
January 8, 1945: Illinois Central and Frisco referred to their primary Memphis station as "Grand Central Station" from its opening in 1914 through 1944. In late 1944, IC timetable references were changed to "Central Station." Installation of two big neon signs reading "Central Station" on the railroad depot at Main & Calhoun brought telephone calls to the Commercial Appeal from people who insisted that the signs should read "Grand Central Station." E.L. Hazlewood, chief clerk to terminal superintendent H.K. Buck, said that it had never been anything except Central Station, citing the marble "Central Station" carved over the Main Street entrance. Illinois Central timetables, he said, refer to the depot merely as Memphis Central Station.
That explanation provides the official railroad version of the name change, but the reality is that the ICRR itself, along with the Frisco and Rock Island, referred to the station as Grand Central Station from its 1914 opening through most of 1944. The Grand Central Station name appears in public timetable listings, in listings of connections in the back of timetables, in the IC's own display advertising announcing the opening of "Grand Central Station" and on the employee timetable placards which were issued with each schedule change. It would seem appropriate to refer to the facility between 1914 and 1944 as Grand Central Station, just as did the railroad, the media, and the numerous postcard manufacturers of that era. From 1944 onward, the facility was renamed simply "Central Station" by edict of the Illinois Central Railroad, reasons as yet unknown.
August 1954: Knecht Report, detailing advantages and disadvantages of abandoning Union Station, consolidating all Memphis passenger operations in Central Station. This was one of several studies prepared by various Memphis railroads as they attempted to reduce expenses incurred by passenger services. (H.D. Knecht was a civil engineer who held the position of Division Engineer on the Missouri Pacific, seniority date September 15, 1911.)
November 1, 1959: $2.5 million worth of Memphis Union Station Co. first mortgage 5% bonds mature today, according to N.N. Hopkins, president of Memphis Union Station Co.
February 12, 1964: Desertion of the aging behemoth called Union Station - forecast two years ago because of dwindling passenger traffic - last night appeared nearing reality. Officials of the L&N announced that they were negotiating with the IC to move to Central Station by April 1. The L&N report came soon after an announcement from MP that it would move on April 1 into its former passenger terminal on Georgia, the old St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern station. Southern, the only other railroad using Union Station, refused to confirm any plans to move. April 1 is the deadline when contracts for all railways using Union Station facilities must either be renewed or allowed to lapse.
J.C. Grissom, L&N Vice president, said that with Missouri Pacific going out of Union Station, it would only leave two railroads to share the expense of operating the station..Other tenants in Union Station include Railway Express Agency, the Pullman Company, and the Western Weighing & Inspection bureau.
April 1, 1964: Union Station today stood silent and deserted, after all three railroads serving the station moved out last night. Missouri Pacific moved their one train to an old station at 43 W. Calhoun St, in the Georgia Street yards, which had been abandoned for passenger service in 1912 when Union Station opened. The old station, at 43 West Calhoun, was built in the 19th century.
Southern Railway moved their once famous Tennessean (now a mixed train, carrying passengers and freight) and a local to Chattanooga, not announcing any plans until a few hours before last night's moving deadline. The Southern station will be at their freight terminal, 32 North Lauderdale, just north of Madison. L&N, which had three trains in and out, moved two blocks west to Central Station, owned by the Illinois Central.
The Memphis City Council on March 31 passed an ordinance which would impose a $50/day fine on railroads which abandon passenger facilities at Union Station without PSC approval. Three readings are needed before the ordinance can become law, and the penalty is thus unassessable until April 14 at the earliest. Mayor William B. Ingram said the city ordinance is to insure that good railroad terminal facilities are maintained and that no railroad move its passenger station to a freight yard. There has been talk for some time about abandoning Union Station and at one time it was considered as a site for a new football stadium.
Most of the 120 employees of Union Station will lose their job. Mopac, for instance, transferred only two to the station it began using today. Napoleon N. Hopkins, president of Union Station and the Union Railway of Memphis, said that the company can no longer operate the station with the passenger trains gone, explaining that the facilities would be disposed of and the Memphis Union Station Company dissolved.
April 2, 1964: Tennessee PSC chairman Cayce Pentecost observed "If a railroad wants to abandon a depot at ‘Pocahontas' it comes before us with every degree of the law, and we have a hearing. But when they're about to move from the biggest depot in the state, we don't hear from them." A PSC hearing was scheduled for April 3 in Nashville, at which time the commission has instructed the railroads to explain why they should not be held in violation of PSC rules by altering service without giving notice to the PSC. Memphis City Commissioner Pete Sisson complained bitterly to R.R. Martin, superintendent, Southern Railway, advising that traffic snarls caused by passenger trains arriving and departing Lauderdale Street station during heavy rush hours would not be tolerated.
Southern had been the last to give public notice of its plans to leave Union Station, posting notices only a few hours before Union Station closed. A freight office in Southern's ancient Lauderdale freight station had been hastily converted to a passenger waiting room by adding folding chairs and a new coat of paint. Passengers arriving on the 4:10pm train were not told they were to be unloaded in a different terminal until they were already in Memphis. Missouri Pacific and Louisville & Nashville had made public their plans to leave Union Station a month ahead of time, but claimed that they were not abandoning any service and thus did not notify the PSC.
April 10, 1964 Tennessee PSC chairman Cayce Pentecost observed "If a railroad wants to abandon a depot at ‘Pocahontas' it comes before us with every degree of the law, and we have a hearing. But when they're about to move from the biggest depot in the state, we don't hear from them." A PSC hearing was scheduled for April 3 in Nashville, at which time the commission has instructed the railroads to explain why they should not be held in violation of PSC rules by altering service without giving notice to the PSC. Memphis City Commissioner Pete Sisson complained bitterly to R.R. Martin, superintendent, Southern Railway, advising that traffic snarls caused by passenger trains arriving and departing Lauderdale Street station during heavy rush hours would not be tolerated.
Southern had been the last to give public notice of its plans to leave Union Station, posting notices only a few hours before Union Station closed. A freight office in Southern's ancient Lauderdale freight station was hastily converted to a passenger waiting room by adding folding chairs and a new coat of paint. Passengers arriving on the 4:10pm train were not told they were to be unloaded in a different terminal until they were already in Memphis. Missouri Pacific and Louisville & Nashville had made public their plans to leave Union Station a month ahead of time, but claimed that they were not abandoning any service and thus did not notify the PSC.
April 10, 1964: Memphis Mayor Ingram said today that the city will seek an injunction in Federal Court, if necessary, in order to restore service at Union Station as ordered by the Tennessee Public Service Commission. Ingram launched into a blistering attack on the railroads after learning today that suit will be filed Monday (April 13) in Chancery Court in Nashville by the railroads seeking to block the PSC order. Southern, Mopac, and Cotton Belt will initially be a part of the suit. L&N is expected to join the case later, but has first adopted another strategy. The L&N petitioned yesterday for the PSC to delay the effective date of its order to move back to Union Station. The petition also asks for PSC permission for L&N to move from Union to Central Station.
May 14, 1964: Interstate Commerce Commission files a complaint contending that Memphis Union Station was abandoned on April 1 without approval of the commission.
October 14, 1964: Federal District Court Judge Bailey Brown issues an injunction directing the railroads to stop their abandonment of Union Station. Railroads immediately appeal, thus postponing action to return to Union Station.
March 31, 1965: Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upholds the October 14, 1964 injunction of District Court Judge Brown, who had ruled that the railroads abandoned Memphis Union Station in violation of Interstate Commerce Commission regulations. The railroads and Memphis Union Station Company had appealed Judge Brown's ruling, contending that the ICC did not have jurisdiction over the closing of Memphis Union Station.
December 9, 1965: A hearing today in Cincinnati before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals could expedite a large building project planned for the site of the present Southern Railway station at Lauderdale and Jefferson, in the Court Avenue Urban Renewal area. The $30-million project, including a 40-story apartment tower, was announced on November 17 by Walter Simmons, director of the Memphis Housing Authority. Southern would sell its property to the MHA and would move its passenger station from the Lauderdale yards to Buntyn station, located at Southern and Semmes. Today's hearing is a request by the railroads to continue their abandonment of Memphis Union Station.
January 6, 1966: Effective date of discontinuance of Pullman service on the Tennessean, a 10-roomette, 6-double bedroom car operating between Memphis and Knoxville.
June 26, 1966: Southern discontinued through train service Memphis-Washington, but maintained Tennessean service between Chattanooga and Memphis, transferring passengers to the Pelican at Chattanooga. This arrangement greatly impacted arrival times at Memphis, an effect that was likely desired by the Southern in order to further discourage patronage. A remnant of the Tennessean continued between Knoxville and Bristol until its last run on November 18, 1966.
July 7, 1966: The legal battle by City of Memphis against railroads abandoning Union Station may threaten plans for urban renewal of the 10-acre Southern Railway yards at Madison and Lauderdale. The option to acquire this property from the Southern Railway for about $1 million expires in September, according to Walter Simmons, executive director of Memphis Housing Authority. Before the railroad can move from this facility, which is currently being used as the Southern passenger station, action is necessary by the state PSC. The city has asked that PSC action be delayed until after the city's lawsuit over Union Station is settled. Although the railroads lost on appeal to the 6th Circuit Court in Cincinnati, the railroads have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.
October 10, 1966: U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear an appeal of Judge Brown's Oct 14, 1964 injunction.
October 22, 1966: A portion of Union Station will be reopened to serve railroad passengers about December 1, in compliance with Federal court orders, according to Edward P. Russell, attorney for Memphis Union Station. Memphis Union Station Company will take immediate steps to comply with Judge Brown's decision and orders. We will reactivate the necessary tracks to accommodate the trains of the tenant lines desiring to use them, and will provide suitable depot facilities for the passengers, although it will take a short time to do these things.
December 1, 1966: The first passenger train in 32 months was scheduled to roll into Union Station at 2am today, with the arrival of Southern's Tennessean. This train is one of 8 trains that will again begin using the station, in compliance with the order of Federal District Judge Bailey Brown. C.W. Wilson, president of Memphis Union Station Company, said that 25 employees and only a portion of the terminal will be used for the restored operation. About 115 people worked at Union when the terminal closed on April 1, 1964. "Our old main waiting room was too big for a long time. We've remodeled a smaller room that used to be the ladies lounge, just off the main waiting room. The ladies' restroom has been renovated and we've built a new ticket office and men's restroom." Passengers will enter Union Station from Calhoun at street level and walk west through the old, unheated main waiting room into the new one, where modern electric heaters are being installed in the ceiling. There will be no eating facilities in the terminal. R.M. Bondurant was the veteran ticket agent on duty for the first day shift. $40,000 was spent to reopen the closed station, including clearing underbrush to open four tracks and the new waiting room remodeling. On December 2, it was reported that 5 passengers arrived on the Tennessean, none on the L&N from Nashville, 3 on the L&N from Bowling Green, KY, and 2 on the Southern from Chattanooga.
April 20, 1967: City and railroad officials met today in Mayor Ingram's office, to discuss using the Memphis Union Station grounds as site of a $9 million regional post office building. Railroad officials revealed that construction of a smaller terminal at the south end of the Union Station property was under consideration. Mayor Ingram indicated that plan was not desirable to the city because it would contribute to further dispersion of terminal facilities. Ingram had proposed that all passenger service be shifted to Central Station, or that the city and Post Office Department work together to find another site other than Union Station.
May 18, 1967: Meeting between railroad, city official and Post Office Department at Mayor Ingram's office.
July 27, 1967: Funeral taps are sounding for the old telegraph machine. The telegraph used to be a way of life, but not anymore, according to J.H. Moore, a foreman and supervisor at Union Station. "We disconnected the telegraph instruments when the station closed on March 31, 1964, and it hasn't operated since". According to L.P. Rose, assistant operator at Central Station, telegraph was still in use at that station, but only to transmit messages to small outlying depots which only have telegraph instruments.
August 30, 1967: Cooper Turner, general counsel for Memphis Union Station Company yesterday filed a petition with the Tennessee Public Service Commission asking for permission to move its depot services from the big, three-story station at 199 East Calhoun to a new facility on South Third. The Federal Government is interested in acquiring two-thirds of the station property to build a regional post office, and to make the sale, it would be necessary to demolish the present station and build a new one on the same property, but on South Third rather than on Calhoun. Records indicate that about 17 passengers arrive and 15 depart daily on the L&N and Southern trains serving Union Station. The proposed new station, to be located on the southeast part of the property, would be in better condition than the present quarters and would be less expensive to operate. It would be a one-story concrete block building, adequately equipped with a waiting room, ticket counter and restrooms.
September 20, 1967: Union Station, the imposing stone structure at 199 East Calhoun that has awed rail passengers since 1912, will soon be razed and rebuilt as a _9 by 37-foot concrete block building at Third and Georgia. Today, the Tennessee PSC is expected to approve removal of the present building to make room for a new postal facility. For the past three years, the City of Memphis has fought to keep the station, and on one occasion the railroads were ordered by a Federal court to return to the facility. Yesterday, Mayor William B. Ingram, who had led the fight to keep the station, said the City Commission has withdrawn its long-standing objection to the railroads moving to a smaller building on the same tract. The main waiting room of the present station could accommodate 300 passengers, but only about 32 passengers now use the station daily. The new one-story station will be divided into a waiting room, ticket office and superintendent's office, according to W.K. Henley, Union Station superintendent. The station will have two tracks, one in and one out for each railroad. Each train will have only one passenger coach, and the remainder of the train will be mail cars. The new postal facility, 300,000 square feet fronting on Calhoun, would consolidate the present 5 buildings of the Memphis sectional center under one roof, saving an estimated 156,000 extra manpower hours a year. CA 9-20-1967 clips (& aerial photo) NOTE: From diagram of facilities, new pos toffice could have been set back behind the Union Station building, allowing the structure to be preserved and redeveloped for some other use.
September 22, 1967: (Editorial - Memphis Commercial Appeal) For Memphis city officials to accept the fact that need for Union Station is gone is, in a way, a milestone marking the close of the railroad passenger era. The Union Station of 1912 fitted the needs of its times, with something extra in ornamentation for the pride of the city. It takes more than nostalgia and regulations of Federal, state and city officials to keep a station which once handled 50 trains a day when there are now less than three dozen passengers in 24 hours. A small and plain structure in the Third & Georgia corner of the property will be adequate for today's passengers.
November 9, 1967: Memphis Housing Authority has agreed to postpone indefinitely the demolition of the old Memphis & Charleston RR Station while two groups (Memphis Landmarks Council and Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities) attempts to restore it as a railroad museum. The station, over 100 years old, was located within an area purchased by Memphis Housing Authority for low income housing. University of Tennessee Medical Units officials indicated that if they were successful in obtaining the land, that they would preserve the building. It had been previously agreed among historic preservationists that the freight sheds extending north and south of the building were not as historically significant, and these were removed. Some accounts describe these as later additions, but the one on the north side was at least partially brick, and may well have been part of the original structure. In any event, the portion of the structure being considered for preservation was the center, 3-story brick section, a building only 50-feet wide.
February 20, 1968: Memphis City Council planned a vote to extend time for renovation efforts to be developed for Memphis & Charleston station. Memphis Housing Authority had been paying interest on bonds and was anxious for property to be redeveloped. When it appeared that the City Council might have the votes for another delay of the station demolition, the Housing Authority was called into a special breakfast meeting. The wrecking contractor was given approval, and demolition began one hour before the city council meeting was scheduled to start.
June 26, 1968: Union Station was opened to the public for one last time, as the contents of the terminal were sold at public auction. More than 1,000 people were waiting when the auction began at 10am, and many were still there at 6pm when the last item was sold. The tall 75,000 gallon water tower went for $100 for scrap, and one of the station's great treasures, the large grandfather clock which synchronized all clocks throughout the station, was sold to Mrs. Vicki Bryant, for $185. She planned to install the old clock in the Frazier-May Cafeteria at 2985 North Thomas. Terry Born paid $500 for 20 huge wooden benches in the waiting room. The auction was conducted by Don Smith & Associates for E.L. Puckett of Amory, MS, who bought the station's contents when rail service was discontinued.
June 29, 1968 Final arrival of Illinois Central train #3 at Poplar Street Station. Service to this station (and 7 other stations) discontinued effective 1201am June 30, 1968, as part of IC's passenger restructuring. Poplar Avenue had disappeared from public timetables with the April 1967 issue, and had not been shown in the Official Guide since the 1920s. [Verification with Employee timetables would be helpful to confirm actual existence of a scheduled stop between April 1967 and June 1968.]
December 2, 1968: The last of more than 15,000 crossties are being removed from Memphis Union Station yards. The ties have been sold for use as fence posts. A new US Post office is scheduled to be built on the old railroad site. (In Commercial Appeal photo, it appears that sheds and Union Station building itself are still intact.)
January 29, 1969: The demolition of Memphis' largest stone structure is almost complete. All of the Union Station building has been razed except for a portion of the northeast main facade, and that will soon fall to the wrecking ball.