Memphis Poplar Street Station

Contributed by Bill Strong

Poplar Street Station was located at Poplar and Front. This station was used by both the IC and Y&MV. This station was opened in 1890. The top part of the tower was removed in 1931, on instructions from the city building inspectors. The original imposing structure was rased in 1939, but a smaller facility continued in use as a secondary station until the 1960s. In the later years it was a stop for only a few trains with the stop for northbound trains eliminated first. By April 1956, trains 3, 15, and 25 stopped southbound, and only #8 northbound. In 1960-61 the northbound stop was eliminated, but the 3 southbound trains continued to stop. In early 1966, the stop of #25 was eliminated, leaving only #3 and #15, both early morning arrivals. The station finally disappeared from public timetables with the April 1967 issue. Larger version.

It was from this station that John Luther "Casey" Jones left on April 30, 1900 on his ride to glory. There is a historical marker dedicated to that at the corner of Front and Poplar. The stone retaining wall is still in place.

Starting in 1865 the Patterson Transfer Company provided transportaion between the various railroad stations in Memphis.

Contributed by Bill Pollard
During the summer of 1909, when the Memphis Railroad Terminal union station agreement was falling apart, the Tennessee Railroad Commission served notice on all Memphis roads, advising that they would be required to bring their existing stations into compliance with existing laws (Jim Crow laws, segregation of sexes laws and restroom/sanitary laws) if they chose to not build a new union station in Memphis. It was understood that a new union station would be in compliance with all laws and would eliminate many of the shortcomings of the existing facilities. Each railroad was instructed to submit plans to the commission by September 15, 1909, and the IC was one of the first to comply.Several weeks before the deadline, IC submitted plans for proposed trackage changes as well as substantially rebuilding the Poplar Street station building. A portion of the present station was to be used, but a large addition was to be built to the south, extending to the corner of Poplar Avenue, and another extensive wing would be built on the north. The entire front of the building would be rebuilt with buff colored pressed brick. The station would have a frontage of 95 feet on Poplar, with a 166 foot frontage on Front, with entrances from both streets. A total of six waiting rooms would be provided: a general waiting room, a smoking room, and a ladies waiting room, one each for white and black patrons.Little, if any, of the proposed improvements were made, with Illinois Central eventually deciding to relocate their main station to the Main and Calhoun location now occupied by Central Station.(The poor illustration is from a photocopy of badly scratched Memphis Commercial Appeal microfilm.)

History Department, Memphis/Shelby County Public Library & Information Center
Contributed by Bill Pollard
1895 brochure

Contributed by Bill Strong
This aerial view of Poplar Ave. Station was taken in 1924, note the absence of train shed and passenger cars as well as Ellis Auditorium under construction. The sign on the front of the station appears to say "Southern Art Cooperative". Larger image available.

Contributed by Bill Strong
View of the north end of downtown in the 1920s. Note Poplar Street Station with the steeple in the center of the picture.

Contributed by Bill Strong
View of the north end of downtown in the 1960s. Note small version of the Poplar Street Station in the lower left corner of the picture.

Contributed by Bill Pollard
This little shanty may have protected the crossing of Poplar Street at the IC station therre. Note the parking lots in this area of heavy rail traffic.

Contributed by Bill Strong
View of the north end of downtown in the 1950s. Note small version of the Poplar Street Station in the left center of the picture.

IC E8A #4028 with train #2 at the Poplar Street Station in Memphis, TN.

Train passing Poplar Street Station Memphis, TN.

Poplar Ave Station

This smaller facility continued in use as a secondary station until the 1960s. In the later years it was a stop for only a few trains with the stop for northbound trains eliminated first. By April 1956, trains 3, 15, and 25 stopped southbound, and only #8 northbound. In 1960-61 the northbound stop was eliminated, but the 3 southbound trains continued to stop. In early 1966, the stop of #25 was eliminated, leaving only #3 and #15, both early morning arrivals. The station finally disappeared from public timetables with the April 1967 issue.

Mike Condren Photo
What remains of the Poplar Street Station. This stone work and brick wall are along the west side of Front Street at Poplar Street, across of the convention center. The plaque describes that John Luther "Casey" Jones began is famous last ride from this location on April 30, 1900.

Remembering the hero, Casey Jones. Simeon T. 'Sim' Webb, who rode to legend with railroader Casey Jones, is shown in Jackson, Tenn., in August, 1947, when a memorial was dedicated honoring Casey. Webb died July 15, 1957.

Photo by The Commercial Appeal files.

To return to the Memphis Historical Railroad front page

For information about the Memphis Union Station.

For information about the Memphis Central Station.

For information about the Other Passenger Stations of Memphis.

For information about the The evolution of Memphis passenger stations.

If you have materials that you would like to contribute,
contact Mike Condren at mcondren@cbu.edu