Train Depots of Arkansas

Arkansas Historic Preservation Program - Tuesday, June 04, 2019


Kiddos seem to naturally gravitate towards trains and if you’re lucky, you don’t grow out of your love of locomotives. Here in Arkansas, we are fortunate to have preserved many of the railroad depots across the state. Those listed on the National Register of Historic Places can be found through the Department of Arkansas Heritage’s website.

And if you would like a brochure with a map showcasing many of these historical railroad sites send a self-addressed stamped legal sized envelope to:

Education Outreach AHPP
Department of Arkansas Heritage
1100 North Street
Little Rock, AR 72201

Let’s explore five of these interesting buildings that once welcomed travelers in key cities around our state.

Frisco Depot

550 West Dickson Street
Fayetteville, Washington County, Arkansas
National Register Listing
Year Added: 1988

This depot was built in 1897 and remodeled in 1925. It displays the Mission Revival/Pueblo Revival style that is associated with the Frisco line and served passenger traffic through 1965. For many years the building sat vacant, but in more recent times it has become home to several businesses, including a restaurant. It is important to know that buildings on the National Register can go on to have a new life in modern times. Guidelines say that, “Under Federal Law, the listing of a property in the National Register places no restrictions on what a non-federal owner may do with their property up to and including destruction, unless the property is involved in a project that receives Federal assistance, usually funding or licensing/permitting.” 

Union Station

1400 W Markham Street
Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas
National Register Listing
Year Added: 1977

Two previous structures resided where 1400 West Markham is today, a wood-frame building constructed in 1873 and torn down in 1906; and an elaborate Second Empire-style structure completed in 1911, but destroyed by fire in 1920. The clock tower from this building survived and was incorporated into the new design as were salvaged bricks from the burned building. In 1921, Union Station opened to the public and today houses restaurants, offices, and a passenger rail office. An unusual hidden feature of the building is a crawl space between the floors which allows access for electrical and plumbing repairs. It was originally thought that rebuilding the depot would take up to two years, however the Missouri Pacific Railroad expedited plans and materials and thanks to the abundance of unemployed workers at the time the structure was completed in record time at an estimated cost of $1 million.

Missouri Pacific Railroad Depot

109 SW Front Street
Walnut Ridge, Lawrence County, Arkansas
National Register Listing
Year Added: 1992

Walnut Ridge is truly a town built around the railroad. The Cairo and Fulton Railroads were constructed here in 1871, and the town sprung up around rail-lines. This 1909 Mediterranean-style building is often called the Mo-Pac Depot and underwent an extensive renovation in the mid-1990s, including restoration of the signature clay tile roof. The once busy railroad depot has found a new life as the home to the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce.

Missouri-Pacific Railroad Depot

100 South Railroad Street McGehee, Desha County, Arkansas
National Register Listing
Year Added: 1992

Designed in the Mediterranean/Craftsman transitional style that was growing in popularity among the railroad lines of the early twentieth century, specifically the Missouri-Pacific Railroad, the Mo-Pac Depot in McGehee was constructed in 1910. According to its National Register nomination form, “Significant exterior details include the large, Italianate brackets that adorn both the spreading cornice throughout the building and the wooden porch supports at the southeastern end; the concrete lintels and sills at most of the window and door openings; and the large, stepped, parapeted Spanish roof dormer above the telegrapher’s bay on the northeastern elevation.” The depot was constructed as part of the Missouri-Pacific Railroad's ambitious campaign to expand their network. While the building sat empty for many years, today it houses the World War II Japanese American Internment Museum which, according to the McGehee Chamber of Commerce, “opened in 2013 with special guests from all over the United States, including George Takei of Star Trek fame. The museum exhibit was donated by the Delta Cultural Center (Helena, AR) and is entitled “Life Interrupted – Against Their Will”. It was originally created by students at UALR in 2004.”

Missouri-Pacific Railroad Depot

100 E Division Street
Hope, Hempstead, Arkansas
National Register Listing
Year Added: 1992

The City of Hope literally owes its name to the railroad. Hope is named after the daughter of Cairo and Fulton Railroad director, Major Loughborough. The original Mediterranean-style building was built in 1917, according to the official National Register nomination form. During the mid-1990s, the building underwent more than a half a million in restorations. The exterior of the building was seen often during the 1992 Presidential Election, emblematic of Bill Clinton’s campaign recalling his boyhood in “a place called Hope.” An Amtrak station operates out of the building today as well as a visitor center and museum about the area and Clinton.



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