The Tuscumbia, Courtland and Decatur Railroad, incorporated on January 13, 1832, ran from
Decatur in Morgan County through the
northern half of Lawrence County through Courtland, then into Colbert County and ended in Tuscumbia, Alabama where it connected
to the Tuscumbia Railway Company.
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 Decatur.
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 and 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.
The Southern abandoned Tuscumbis'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 9 am - 4 pm
Saturday 11 am - 4 pm
Sunday 2 pm - 4 pm
Tuscumbia Railroad Historic Depot
204 W. 5th St.
Tuscumbia, AL 35674