Louisville and Nashville Railroad Station

Edit profile
Louisville and Nashville Railroad Station

The Historic Railpark and Train Museum, formerly the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Station in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is an historic railroad station. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 18, 1979. Built in 1925, the standing depot is the last among a succession of Louisville & Nashville Railroad depots that served Bowling Green.

The first railroad depot built in Bowling Green was in 1859, when the L&N's rails reached Bowling Green. The line from Nashville reached Bowling Green on August 10, and was celebrated by 10,000 Nashvillians. The line to Louisville was complete on October 18.

The first Louisville & Nashville Station in Bowling Green was a brick building. However, both armies during the Civil War found the L&N railroad a convenient logistical tool, and found the region a convenient passageway to enemy territory, making Bowling Green a key to both sides' Western war plans. When the Confederates were forced to retreat from the city, they burned all the railroad supplies they could and destroyed the brick depot. When Union troops took the city, they set about building a new depot. It was a wooden building, and served the railroad and people of Bowling Green through the rest of the 19th century. Local agricultural goods, such as strawberries and tobacco, were shipped from the depot, as well as locally mined building stone and oil. This made the L&N station the largest employment center in Bowling Green.

In 1878 malaria broke out from New Orleans to Memphis, Tennessee. Residents of Memphis wishing to escape the epidemic boarded the L&N trains, but residents from other towns refused to let them leave the train at their towns. Bowling Green's station was the first place they could leave the train, but enormous bonfires were built in order to deter infection. The evacuation of Memphis lasted a few days, until Memphis was quarantined.

At its peak, the depot served twenty trains a day. By the 1900s, the depot was becoming too small to adequately serve all those who used it. However, the president of the L&N, Milton H. Smith, was rumored to have been arrested once in Bowling Green and refused to build a new station in Bowling Green. In the 1920s, the new depot, the one still standing, was built with much celebration five years after Smith's death, seeming to confirm the rumor. It was constructed of locally quarried limestone. After World War II, rail traffic was becoming less popular. Although Amtrak replaced L&N Passnger service in 1971, the last passenger train left the depot on October 6, 1979.

Currently, the old depot serves as The Historic Railpark and Train Museum, with several historic railroad cars on the property. One festival held annually in December is the Festival of Trains.