L & N Station

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Postcard view of the L&N Station

The L & N Station (originally Union Passenger Station or Birmingham Passenger Station) was a passenger rail station for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad's service to Birmingham.

It was constructed on the site of the former Relay House hotel by the L&N Railroad for $134,163. It was Birmingham's first true railway station, taking the place of a series of wood-framed shelters over the passenger platforms that preceded it. It opened on April 1, 1887 and L&Ns Engine No. 95, under the control of W. L. Rosser was the first locomotive to pull in. When it opened the station hosted 18 trains each day. The station master was C. E. Meglemry.

Originally the station served not only the L&N Railroad, but also the Alabama Great Southern Railroad and the Georgia-Pacific Railway. Over the years it has also served the Birmingham Mineral Railroad, the Southern Railway, the Kansas City, Memphis & Birmingham Railroad, the Atlanta, Birmingham and Atlantic Railway, and the Central of Georgia Railway. All service except for the L&N and AB&A trains moved to the Birmingham Terminal Station in 1909, prompting the Union Station to become known as the L&N Station.

Soldiers await deployment at the L&N Station on May 1, 1898

The station's large train shed, spanning over several tracks at grade level, was dismantled in the early 1930's to accommodate Birmingham's downtown grade separation project. By raising the trackage above grade level, an underpass could be constructed at 20th Street North, eliminating a dangerous grade crossing on Birmingham's main street. Around the same time the Atlanta, Birmingham & Coast Railroad moved its passenger service to Elyton Yard in West End, leaving L&N as the station's sole occupant.

1960 station

Main article: Amtrak Station

The L&N Station, past its prime and serving only a fraction of the passenger traffic it once hosted, was relocated in 1960 to a smaller facility one block west in advance of the construction of the 1962 Bank for Savings Building. The move allowed for another underpass to be constructed at 19th Street.

The new two-story station featured an air-conditioned and brightly-lit passenger lobby with piped-in music. The exterior had a large tile mosaic mural depicting historical locomotives.

The 1960s saw continued deterioration of passenger service. In 1969 the L&N actually discontinued its Humming Bird at Birmingham, in mid-run from Cincinnati to New Orleans. The 14 passengers continuing to Louisiana did so by bus.

That station was taken over by Amtrak in the 1970s, servicing the Crescent and Gulf Breeze routes (the second of which ended in 1995). The station remained in use until it was moved to a smaller office adjoining the tracks at 18th Street North pending expansion of the Birmingham Central Station to handle passenger rail traffic.

References

  • Berman, Irving (June 22, 1959) "Skyscraper to replace L&N railroad station" Birmingham News
  • Kincey, Bob (July 19, 1960) editorial column. Birmingham News
  • Key, Lyle. "Union Station/L&N Station" in Marvin Clemons and Lyle Key (2007) Birmingham Rails: The Last Golden Era from World War II to Amtrak. Birmingham: Red Mountain Press. ISBN 9780615143538