In the News
What’s in the Future for Columbia Depot?
By Linda Walters Herald Staff Writer
In The Daily Herald June 12, 1983
“It’s vacant and it’s available and it’s over there,” says Birmingham Division superintendent L.D. Macon. The railroad wants to give the county or city first chance at the building, he says. But if all else fails, “I’ve got people who’ll buy it for materials.”
Feet shuffled in and out for 80 years before the stone building was deserted about two months ago.
The last passenger train ran in 1966, but L&N Railroad kept offices after that.
Trains still run by, but the new owner, Seaboard Systems, no longer needs it.
He says the building’s fate is being negotiated by Col. Phil Hooper, Seaboard Systems’ resident vice president stationed in Nashville. Hooper said Monday he (had public sentiment in mind when he) discussed terms with Executive Taylor Rayburn several months ago.
“We’ve got several ways of approaching it,” Rayburn said Tuesday. “They’re still talking about letting us have it or the city have it… or two or three people would like to buy it.”
It Does Have History
“Tuscumbia, Alabama saved theirs for a senior citizens group,” said Maury County Historian Jill Garrett, “One at Natchez or Vicksburg is a nice visitors. And one in Huntsville…there were tentative plans to turn it into a museum or a visitors center.
“But the ones I’ve seen restored aren’t half as pretty as ours.”
Five houses were moved from the depot site before construction began in 1902, says Mrs.Garrett. It must have been operating in 1903 because a newspaper tells of a January wedding in the waiting room.
In 1904 a youngster was put off in Columbia because she didn’t have a ticket. The headlines read “Does Anybody Want a 5-Year Old Girl. The County Judge Has One”
Famous people who walked through the station were Buffalo Bill in 1909, William Jennings Bryan in 1914, President Taft in 1910 and evangelist Billy Sunday in 1924.
Watching trains come and go was entertainment in the years before television. When Barnum and Bailey came to town in 1909 100 cages of wild animals, 30 elephants, 24 camels and 1,200 people unloaded at the station.
HillHistoricProperties.com exists to showcase the rich architecture and history in Columbia, Tennessee through highlighting properties owned by David and Debra Hill. Each property has gone through extensive preservation and restoration to become timeless landmarks of the community. Mr. and Mrs. Hill were presented with the Association of the Preservation of Tennessee Antiques (APTA) Virginia Alexander Volunteer of the Year Award in 2019 for their historic preservation efforts in Maury County.