Bobby's Bama: Decatur Train Depot - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Bobby's Bama

Bobby's Bama: Decatur Train Depot

(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)
DECATUR, AL (WAFF) -

The Decatur Union Depot is ready to show the results of a $2.5 million facelift.

Money for the restoration is a result of both public and private donations.

"The police department has already moved in. They needed space. This has turned out to be a wonderful solution to their space needs, as well as providing a great piece of historic preservation," said David Breland, a retired judge and director of historic resources and events for Decatur.

Breland said the depot was built in 1905 and designed by a famous architect in the southern railway system that was "the heart and the soul of Decatur" for many years.

That history was vital to the area. Breland said the Tuscumbia, Courtland and Decatur Railroad was the first railroad west of the Allegheny Mountains. The three communities shared the first western railroad in the United States.

"We've had railroading history here for over 180 years," he said.

That can be seen through the artifacts like this crossbuck, which is a warning sign approaching a railroad.

"This particular one is about 100 years old and was in our Decatur City Cemetery," said Breland. "We also have here about a 100-year-old x-shape crossbuck. That is the more familiar shape."

Another surprise is a soft drink box from Bucheit Bottling Works more than 100 years old. Breland said Buckite is one of the industries that came here in the 1880s, and it actually had the franchise to bottle Coco Cola before Coca Cola had its own bottles in the early 1900s.

A block of ice, drinks and sawdust filled it before electricity.

A handmade miniature scale of the depot by Jim Pruitt will take your breath away. Breland said Pruitt had to fabricate some of the tools he needed for this extensive job.

There are so many surprises at the Decatur Union Depot. One of them is a bench from 1905 that was in the original building. Believe it or not, a local family had the benches, but they were told to give it back if they ever restored the depot, and so they did.

"We have the old plaque from the Keller Memorial Bridge, which was the first bridge across the Tennessee River," said Breland.

Even the lift mechanism is on display, along with other treasures, like a Louisville and Nashville Railroad spittoon.

"We have lots of examples of locks. We have lots of lanterns of various types," Breland said.

Breland said this is one of the best places to watch trains in the United States.

Learn more about it here.

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