The Tuscumbia, Courtland and Decatur Railroad, incorporated on January
13, 1832, ran
from Decatur in Morgan County through the northern half
County through Courtland, then into Colbert County and ended in
Tuscumbia, Alabama where it connected to the Tuscumbia Railway
Construction began in mid-1832, the first segment between Tuscumbia
and Leighton was completed in November of that year. Traffic between
those two cities began at the day of completion. The second segment
between Leighton and Decatur was
completed in June 1834.
Construction was speedy because of the large cotton industry in North
Alabama. Barges could not pass through the rapids caused by the Shoals
along the Tennessee River between Florence, and Decatur. The Shoals
Canal was congested and the state pursued
funding for a railroad between The Shoals and the calmer waters in
In 1850 it was incorporated into the Memphis and Charleston
Railroad which eventually merged into the Southern Railway, a
predecessor of Norfolk Southern. The line is still in operated by
Norfolk Southern Railway and serves as a vital railroad link
between The Shoals, and the city of Decatur.
The Tuscumbia Railroad Depot was built in 1888 by the Memphis
& Charleston Railroad as a division headquarters. The Depot was
built on the site of the first railroad west of the Allegheny
Mountains which began in 1830.
abandoned Tuscumbia’s 5th Street Station in 1946.
The Southern Railway had built a new station about a mile north of
Tuscumbia to serve the whole Shoals Area. The depot was given to
the City of Tuscumbia to be used as a recreational building for the
youth of Tuscumbia.
The Depot is being restored to
its original 1888 condition. Rail memorabilia as well as computerized trains
simulators allow you to have the experience of actually driving a train. One
room houses early carriage that belonged to Helen Keller’s family. Anne
Sullivan and Helen Keller traveled used this depot often in
its early years.
Brandon, one of the Depot
restorers, gave us a fantastic tour and history of the area's railroad history. They are
currently restoring the old tool shed building to its original
appearance. Brandon said that their near-term goal (hopefully to be completed by mid-summer 2011) was
to install the train round table in the area next to the Depot. They
hope to be able to install the hand crank and have the exhibit
working as it did in the 1800s.
We plan to return next summer to
see what progress has been made with all the upgrades. If you are
going to be in the area and you are a train buff, we recommend you
visit the Depot and ask for Brandon. Thanks Brandon.
Rail yard: open all the time
Wednesday – Friday 9am – 4pm
Saturday 11am – 4pm
Sunday 2pm – 4pm
Tuscumbia Railroad Historic Depot
204 W. 5th St.
Tuscumbia, AL 35674