Union Train Station, Jackson Tennessee
The Union Station, built in the 1870s, is a typical example of the small town railroad station which is rapidly disappearing from the American scene. It literally emphasized the union of the two railroads by being located between the two merging lines. Its dual waiting rooms served their respective railroads.
The earliest located reference to this structure is in the Jackson Sun, August 24, 1877; it refers to a ticket agent at the Union Depot. The two lines did not cross until 1873, and a lengthy article in the same newspaper for June 10, 1876 makes no mention of the Union Depot in summarizing the history of rail transportation in the city. The 1878 deeds (in which the two companies exchange ends of the depot with one another) carry an accurately measured location for the depot; this was checked against the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio track map for Mile 386 (north of Mobile) and it coincides with the location and size of the present structure.
The Illinois Central (successor to the Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans and to the Mississippi Central at this location) merged with the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio (successor to the Mobile and Ohio) in 1972. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad is the result of the corporate union of the lines which had their depot on a union basis nearly a hundred years earlier. The depot has been all but abandoned; the last Gulf, Mobile and Ohio passenger run through Jackson was in 1959, and the Illinois Central moved its passenger service to the freight yard southwest of town in 1961. At this time the benches and similar fixtures were removed from the ground floor. Railroad offices which occupied the second floor moved in August, 1972.
Mention should be made of two local railroad men whose careers were associated with the depot. Milton Brown was President of the Mobile and Ohio before, during and after the Civil War; the line had to be almost completely rebuilt under his leadership because of the wartime destruction. Isaac B. Tigrett assimilated a number of floundering branch lines into the small but solvent Gulf, Mobile and Northern, of which he had become President in 1920; he managed the merger of this line with the insolvent but larger Mobile and Ohio in 1940, creating the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio. An innovator in the railroad business, Tigrett managed the company successfully until 1954.
The structure is a typical example of a small town railroad station. The design is simple, a rectangular shape and common architectural elements.
The building measures 35'-O" x 161'-0". It is nine bays long and three bays wide, and is two stories high. The plan is a simple rectangle. There are also the additions: one-story addition (one-bay front x two bays) on the south end and one-story addition (two-bay front x three bays) on the north end.
The station has two waiting rooms (one for each of the rail lines it served). Between the waiting rooms were the ticket offices. At the opposite ends were public toilets. At the far south end of the building was the baggage room with the mail room at the north end.
The second floor has a central hall flanked by offices on each side. The corridor is divided by a doorway into two halls. A hall perpendicular to the main corridor gives access to the exterior stairway (there are no interior stairways).