TUSCUMBIA, AL (WAFF) - The trains are now silent relics of by gone days when rails were the preferred method of travel. The Memphis and Charleston took over the railroad from the Tuscumbia, Courtland, Decatur and eventually became Southern Railway.
Evan Tidwell is the vice president of the Memphis/Charleston Historical Society. They have a lot to do with preserving this history.
"The Muscle Shoals were pretty much impassable before the canal and the dams were later built, so the railroad was originally conceived to bypass part of the Tennessee River," he said.
"Tuscumbia was the first railroad in Alabama and the 4th in the United States so this is where it all began," said John McWilliams, museum curator.
Williams takes us back in time where the transportation goes from the oxen driven wagons to the trains of the 1880's.
Photos line the walls. Tools, lanterns, switches and more are on display. When the ticket window opened, it averaged about 30,000 tickets per year. It's not Starbucks, but the coffee is ready on the pot bellied stove. Reproductions light the way to the telegraph.
Williams takes us to a special room.
"We are in the Jack Voorheis room. Nearly everything in this room has been on loan from that family," said McWilliams.
That includes a lot of miniature train sets.
"Most of them are Lionel. These are pre-World War II cars; here they're all metal," he said. "Many people have a fascination with trains, and it isn't something new. It goes way back to the time your grandparents were young, and took their lunch to school."
There are not just trains on display, but ornate antique methods of transportation.
"That one belongs to Col. Wilbur Johnson of Civil War fame here in Tuscumbia, and it was a classy carriage in its day," added McWilliams.
A bell which used to be on the train is now in the depot. It is a favorite for school children and it's loud enough to get your attention.
The fighting 718th Railroad Operating Battalion also brought home a souvenir from Germany when they captured a railway station there.
History lessons from the transportation perspective in Bobby's Bama.